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Researchers Big Discovery May Change The Way Blood Transfusions Are Done

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If you've ever been sick or involved in an accident, you'll know that blood transfusions could be vital to saving someone's life.

According to Brooklyn National Laboratory, in the United States about 32,000 pints of blood are used every day and 4.5 million citizens would die each year if they had not received their blood transfusions.

Although there are eight different types of blood, some are rarer than others.

Live Science reports the most popular blood type in the United States is Type O-positive at 38%, followed by 34% of people having A-positive, 9% B-positive, 7% O-negative, 6% A-negative, 3% AB-positive, 2% B-negative, and finally 1% AB-negative.

But even though it's considerably rare for an individual to have Type O-negative blood, it's viewed as universal, as it can be donated to anyone.

Due to that benefit, O-negative is always in demand, as doctors can give transfusions in emergency situations without having to know a patient's blood type.  

This makes the blood type high in demand, but causes hospitals to frequently have a shortage - until now.

Canadian researchers have claimed that gut bacteria, a group of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract, could be the key to transforming Type A and B blood into the coveted O-negative.

Unlike O-negative, Type A and B have antigens on their red blood cells, which make it impossible for them to be mixed with any others.

However, University of British Columbia biochemistry researcher Stephen Withers told CTV News in a statement that these blood types could easily be changed.

"If you can remove those antigens, which are just simple sugars, then you can convert A or B to O blood," he said.

While Withers and a team of researchers originally planned on analyzing the qualities of mosquitoes and leeches, they quickly turned their attentions to enzymes and gut bacteria.

After discovering that gut bacteria uses a group of enzymes removes sugars off mucins, which are "proteins that line the gut wall," the researchers tested to see if they were capable at eliminating the antigens in Type A and Type B blood.

Results showed that this specific group of enzymes were 30% more effective than other previously tested organisms.

"I am optimistic that we have a very interesting candidate to adjust donated blood to a common type," Withers said.

"Of course, it will have to go through lots of clinical trials to make sure that it doesn't have any adverse consequences, but it is looking very promising."

Have you ever had a blood transfusion? Let us know your experience in the comments!

[H/T: CTV News]

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