Episode Summary

Bacterial enzymes could convert donated blood to be compatible with more people in need!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Cucumber leaf spot virus

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

Blood transfusions using donated blood save many lives. Unfortunately, most donations can't be given to just anyone that needs blood; there must be a match in blood type between donor and recipient, or else a life-threatening reaction could occur in the recipient's body. So type A can't donate to type B, or vice versa, but type O is compatible with the other types.

In this study, bacterial enzymes found in human gut microbes have the ability to cleave off the unique type A and B sugars on the surface of red blood cells. This could allow the conversion of all donated blood to type O, greatly increasing the blood bank supply, but more testing is needed to develop the process.

Journal Paper

Rahfeld P, Sim L, Moon H, Constantinescu I, Morgan-Lang C, Hallam SJ, Kizhakkedathu JN, Withers SG. 2019. An enzymatic pathway in the human gut microbiome that converts A to universal O type blood. Nat Microbiol 4:1475–1485.

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