RESEARCHERS from the Albany Medical
Centre (AMC) in New York, have devised
a new technique which will lead to a
blood type that would be compatible
with all blood types. They have developed a process to coat red blood
cells with a polymer called polyethylene
glycol, or PEG, that would make it
possible to transfuse any type of blood
into any patient. Red blood cells are
not affected by the chemical coating.
The technique will have important
clinical benefits, especially for patients
with rare blood types, says Mark
Scott, who is leading the research team
Human blood is divided into four blood types - A, B, AB and o, depending on the antigens present on the surface of blood cells. If the wrong blood type is given to a patient, these antigens can trigger powerful and destructive reactions. But this problem can now be overcome by coating the blood cells with PEG so that the antigens are not detected by the immune system. "This prevents the destruction of foreign blood types," says Scott.
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