Blood transfusions are life savers; especially for trauma victims. I don’t think the average non-medical person understands how many transfusions are occurring in Level I trauma centers across the country every single day. Trying to save a life in desperate situations can burn through a hospital’s supply of O negative blood in less than an hour.
When scientists take on an issue such as cloning or artificial blood there are many “spin off” effects from the research. I was surprised to see there’s been a study to use lab-bred enzymes to change blood types A, B, & AB into “O” for transfusion purposes.
Of course they will not be injecting the enzymes into people; they will inject the enzymes into the donor bags. The blood will then be transfused into sick people.
Why try this?
Well, your loved one could die if O blood is unavailable and all the lab has is A, B, & AB. By stripping the antigens away, the base blood type remaining is type O. Here’s an article which links to the original: Toward Efficient Enzymes for the Generation of Universal Blood through Structure-Guided Directed Evolution.
While they mention “universal donor” which is O negative blood and preferred by all trauma surgeons in every city of the world, they don’t address the Rh antigen. It wouldn’t matter. Labs would have one freezer for RhD and another for Rhd. The effect will be the same. More O blood available. If this works, there would be no need for blood typing, just Rh antigen typing.
Understand they are years away from getting this to the rest of us. First: They will have to prove all antigens have been removed to prevent sensitization and transfusion reactions. Second: They will have to prove the enzymes doesn’t change the blood in some unknown way. Remember, blood can be stored in freezers for 2 weeks. Third:They will have to go through the clinical trial process for testing in humans which may take upward to 10 years.
If this article makes you wonder if type O is the first and original blood type, think again.
According to Reid & Shine in their book, The Discovery and Significance of the Blood Groups, they state that DNA tests from all the blood group alleles have shown that the O gene is a variant of the A gene. Which means blood group O came after A, B, & AB. They postulate that certain past epidemics may be responsible for different proportions of the ABO blood groups in populations.