News from the future: Universal blood

Redcells X220
Soon, blood cells from donated blood will be universally compatible –

Researchers led by Henrik Clausen of the University of Copenhagen have discovered two enzymes that efficiently chop the A and B sugars off of red blood cells, making them universal. The company ZymeQuest, based in Beverly, MA, has licensed the enzymes and developed a machine that can simultaneously treat eight units of blood with the enzymes in 90 minutes.

The two chopping enzymes discovered by Clausen are made by bacteria. They selectively cleave only A or B sugars, leaving other sugars on the red cells’ surface intact. The enzymes cleave each of these sugars so that there is no risk of an immune reaction in the patient. And they perform well at a neutral pH. The enzymes discovered previously did not do all these things.

Technology Review: Universal Blood – Link.

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2 thoughts on “News from the future: Universal blood

  1. I wonder about this article. I used to work for a Red Cross lab, and it’s strange that this article does not mention Rh factor at all. If someone is Rh negative, they will have the same sort of reaction to Rh positive blood that this method supposedly prevents. That’s why in all the (good) medical dramas, they call for “O neg”, because although type O does not have the A or B antigens, O positive may cause a problem in someone who is Rh negative.

    I wasn’t in blood banking, so maybe I’m slightly off, but it’s poor reporting that they didn’t at least say “Rh factor will not cause as severe a reaction”, or “With all ABO blood types being equal, Rh positive and negative blood will be available to more patients.”

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