Canadian researchers have discovered what could be a way to alleviate a common blood shortage by using enzymes from bacteria in the human digestive system.
The team from the University of British Columbia found the enzymes could remove the A and B antigens from type A, B and AB red blood cells. The process effectively turns them into type O, since type O is defined as not having either A or B antigens on the red cells.
Type O blood is the most common in the United States, and the supply of O-negative is always tight because it can be used in virtually any patient in an emergency.
Scientists have searched for years for a way to convert type AB, A and B blood to type O, but have had little success in developing an affordable and reliable system.