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More Than ABO

The planned National Center for Blood Group Genomics aims to get into the nitty-gritty of blood typing, as GenomeWeb reported last week.

Connie Westhoff, the director of immunohematology, genomics, and rare blood at the New York Blood Center, says new center will perform genomics-based analysis for more precise blood typing.

"It's one of the first areas where you can really implement personalized medicine," Westhoff tells Wired.

Blood types, Wired notes, are more complicated than the A, B, and O blood groups and the Rh factor positive and negative designations. While those descriptions work for most blood transfusions, people who need multiple transfusions — such as people with sickle cell anemia — and who thus can become sensitized to minor blood proteins over time would benefit from extensive testing. And there are some 300 other blood group antigens.

Westhoff tells Wired that the new center will test all the samples it receives for 35 such proteins, with the hope of expanding to all 300 with next-generation sequencing.

"We're developing the algorithm to translate next generation sequencing for all these markers," she adds.

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