Mar 17 2016
It is all too common for people who have been in accidents of some kind to require donated blood to stay alive, but there's only so much to go around. Pluswhich, humanoid biology complicates matters: There are four major blood groups (A, B, AB, and O), and two Rhesus groups (positive and negative). People with type A blood can recieve blood from type A and O donors only; similiarly, people with type B blood can recieve type B or O blood only. A lucky few with type AB blood can recieve blood from any of the four groups, but people with type O blood can only recieve other type O blood. This is why type O donors are in such high demand - their blood can be used by anyone, but the blood they can be transfused with is limited to a single type only.
Failure to recieve the proper type of blood during a transfusion results in clotting due to the body's immune response and often haemoglobin toxicity, both of which result in death if too much of the wrong blood is used. This happens all too often because mistakes are, regrettably, noticably common in hospitals when it comes to type and cross-match testing.
But... Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have developed an enzymatic processing method that strips the A, B, and O antigens from the erthyrocytes in donated blood, which would make it safe to transfuse into the 'wrong' patients. At first, the method was used to make freely transfusable type B blood, which actually did hit the clinical testing phase, but the possibilities were still very limited. Recent advances in bacterial protein synthesis, however, have produced enzymes that work on type A, B, and AB blood without damaging it to a dangerous degree, effectively transforming it into type O blood.
Wow. That's really all I can say: Wow.
If this technique pans out, many thousands of people might survive accidents. This could also be applied to treat haemophiliacs, who often require blood transfusions along with large doses of factor VII and factor V to recover from relatively minor injuries because their blood does not clot.