Enzyme from bacterium offers speed in making cells safer for transfusion
D.H. Kwan et al/Journal of the American Chemical Society 2015
By tweaking an enzyme borrowed from a bacterium, researchers have taken a step closer to creating blood that is safe for transfusing to all people, regardless of their blood type — A, B, AB or O.
Compared with the unaltered enzyme, designated Sp3GH98, the engineered version is 170 times faster at chopping apart certain sugar-based markers found on blood cells, researchers report online April 14 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Those sugars are signals of blood type; severing them transforms blood cells into a generic blood type that could be used universally for life-saving transfusions.
The natural enzyme, which researchers swiped from the pneumonia-causing bacterium Streptococcus pneumonia, is innately good at shearing the sugar markers that define blood cells as type B. But slow slicing of type A markers has been a sticking point for creating universal blood.