•   Tuesday, 29 Nov, 2022
Scientists alter blood type of donor kidneys to increase supply of organs for transplant

Scientists alter blood type of donor kidneys to increase supply of organs for transplant

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In order to increase the supply of organs for transplant, scientists have successfully altered the blood type of the donor's kidneys.

Highlighting the implications of the breakthrough, researchers said it will especially be beneficial for minority groups as they find it harder to find a match.

In comparison to white patients, black and other ethnic minority groups often have to wait a year longer as they are more likely to have the rarer B-type blood group.

Both organ donor and receiver need to have the same blood group for the transplant to take place successfully.

While people from those communities make up 33 per cent of the kidney transplant waiting list, just over 9 per cent of total organ donations came from black and other minority ethnic donors during 2020-2021.

To allow more transplants to take place, researchers have changed the blood type to the universal O as this can be used for people with any blood type.

For flushing blood infused with an enzyme through the deceased donor’s kidney, researchers at the University of Cambridge used a normothermic perfusion machine that connects with a human kidney to ensure that oxygenated blood passes through the organ to better preserve it for future use.

Effectively changing its blood type to type O, the enzyme removes the blood-type markers that line the blood vessels of the organ.

''Our confidence was really boosted after we applied the enzyme to a piece of human kidney tissue and saw very quickly that the antigens were removed,'' said Serena MacMillan, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge.

The team will look at how the approach might be used in a clinical setting after testing the reintroduction of other blood types.

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