Blood supplies often run low. There are different blood types and a person with Type A cannot receive Type B in a transfusion, for example. However, anyone can receive Type O – it is regarded as a universal blood group. Now, researchers may have found a way to convert any type of red blood cell into Type O.
Speaking at the American Chemical Society, researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada, reported that an enzyme (a molecule that assists chemical reactions) found in the gut can do this conversion in a safe, efficient and economical manner.
Being able to produce universally accepted blood quickly and cheaply could reduce seasonal demands on supplies.
This approach to creating universally accepted blood is 30 times more efficient than any previously used. However, it's likely to be useful only in emergencies; countries would still need to stockpile other types of blood. It is currently unclear how people with different blood groups are distributed geographically and whether there might be local hotspots of certain blood types.
This research hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed or published. The enzyme that converts the blood type would need to be clinically tested in order to weed out any side effects.