A mutant enzyme appears promising in removing some antigens in Type A and B blood, which if further developed could help increase available blood for transfusions by making these blood types similar to Type O blood.

Described in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers from the University of British Columbia created a high-powered enzyme using directed evolution to insert mutations into the gene that codes for the enzyme. The mutant enzymes that were more effective at cutting the antigens were selected and the enzyme became 170 times more effective in only five generations. The enzyme works to “snip off” antigens in the blood; the scientists were able to remove the majority of the antigens in Type A and B blood in the study.

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Further research is needed to manipulate the enzyme to remove all antigens from the blood, as small amounts of residual antigens may trigger an immune response in transfusion recipients.

For more information visit UBC.ca.