Having to know your blood type for a transfusion might become a thing of the past for most people.
Researchers at UBC are developing enzymes that can turn donated blood into something similar to the so-called ‘universal’ donor type ‘O’.
Scientists knew about the enzyme for decades, but UBC is using ‘Directed Evolution’ to enhance them.
According to Chemistry professor Steve Withers, they’ve made progress.
“What we’ve demonstrated in this work is that this approach of improving the activity of these enzymes is feasible.”
Withers says they’ve taken it upon themselves to beef up an enzyme that pulls off the sugars that make A and B type blood different from O type.
“So we’ve been applying the approaches of ‘Directed Evolution’, which is essentially taking the process of natural evolution and speeding it up to warp speed in the lab.”
Originally it took so much of the enzyme that using it was pointless.
Withers says it’ll be at least a decade before this can be used in hospitals.
He says they’ve received enough support to continue working for the next five years, but more money always helps.