Scientists Find A Surprising Way To Transform A And B Blood Types Into Universal Blood

Blood banks are always short in supply-especially when it comes to the “Universal donor” type O.

Surprisingly, the gut microbiome may hold a solution for boosting universal blood supplies by chemically converting other blood types into the universal O. Infusing the wrong blood type-say, type A to type B-triggers deadly immune reactions.

Blood banks have an imbalance of different blood types-for example, too much type A, not enough universal O. This week, a team from Denmark and Sweden discovered a cocktail of enzymes that readily converts type A and type B blood into the universal donor.

Compared to previous attempts, the blend of enzymes converted A and B blood types to type O blood with “Remarkably high efficiencies,” the authors wrote.

Blood types can be characterized in multiple ways, but roughly speaking, the types come in four main forms: A, B, AB, and O. These types are distinguished by what kinds of sugar molecules-called antigens-cover the surfaces of red blood cells.

Type A blood has A antigens; type B has B antigens; type AB has both.

Like licking an ice cream cone, as the antigens gradually melt away, the blood cells are stripped of their A or B identity, eventually transforming into the universal O blood type.

The team didn’t address other blood antigens, such as the Rh system, which is what makes blood types positive or negative.