The discovery of the Canadian researchers could be a blessing for blood banks in the not too distant future

UBC researchers believe that their new technology could help blood banks with fewer deficits. (CBC)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia seem to have made a discovery that could have a profound effect on Canada's blood supply.

They found enzymes that can convert any type of blood to Type O.

The UBC discovery will probably make things better for people who are at the head

The discovery could greatly increase the amount of potential blood donors and make blood reconciliation easier and safer.

To make transfusions safe, blood from a donor must match that of a patient and that is not always easy.

"Blood group is determined by the presence of antigens on the surface of red blood cells," says lead researcher Stephen Withers, a UBC professor in chemistry and biochemistry.

In 2012, a man gives blood in Montreal, roughly by the time the Canadian research team went to work to find enzymes that could convert any type of blood into Type O. The team succeeded. (Ryan Remiorz / Canadian Press)

"Type A blood has the A antigen, B has the B antigen, AB blood has both antigens and O blood has no.

"Antigens can cause an immune response if they are foreign to the body, so transfusion patients must either receive their own blood group or type O to prevent a reaction.

"That's why O-blood is so important."

For more than six years, the team sampled DNA from millions of microorganisms with a view to the desired enzymes,

Eventually the team found, by extracting bacterial DNA from faecal samples, what it was looking for in the mucous membrane that clings to the human intestine.

Withers and his team are planning to apply for a patent for the newly identified enzymes and together with Canadian Blood Services and the Center for Blood Research they will test for different types of blood from different donors.

I spoke with Withers on Friday about the discovery of his team and how and when this will affect the rest of us.


With files from CP, CBC, Postmedia, Huffington Post

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