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For More Donor Organs

Researchers have used enzymes to transform lungs from people with type A blood so they resemble lungs from people with type O, work that could potentially increase the number of donor organs available in the future, Gizmodo writes.

A team from the University of Toronto used two enzymes — FpGalNAc deacetylase and FpGalactosaminidase — to remove A-antigens. As they report in Science Translational Medicine, they first found that the enzymes could remove more than 90 percent of the A-antigens from red blood cells and aorta samples, before then testing the approach on lung samples. After four hours of ex vivo lung perfusion, the enzymes removed more than 97 percent of the endothelial A-antigens of lung samples. In a transplant model, these treated samples minimized antibody binding and antibody-related injury, as compared to controls.

Currently, type O donors makeup 55 percent of the donor pool, and the researchers estimate that the addition of treated organs from type A donors would boost the portion of universal donors to 80 percent of the pool.

"Often times we can't transplant the sickest patient with the next donor. Some patients die on the wait list because of that. Some patients have to wait a very long time, " senior author Mercelo Cypel from Toronto tells Gizmodo. "If we remove ABO as a barrier … we will have moved a big step up in fairness in organ donor allocation."

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