Scientists Change Blood Type of Donor Kidneys…making Future Transplants Easier

By: | August 22nd, 2022

Professor Mike Nicholson ( Image courtesy: Kidney Research UK )

In a medical breakthrough, researchers from the University of Cambridge have successfully altered the blood type of a donor’s kidneys. This development could increase the supply of organs for transplant.

This discovery could save the lives of many patients who need organ donations and, are waiting for a suitable kidney. For example, if a person is in a need of kidney with blood type B. He cannot take it from someone with another blood type. However, now the blood type of a kidney can be changed to the universal O-type. As a result, the kidney can now be transplanted into any patient with any blood type.

The Cambridge scientists successfully altered the blood type on three deceased donor kidneys, converting them to the O blood type

Professor Mike Nicholson and Ph.D. student Serena MacMillan used a normothermic perfusion machine. It is a device that is used to pass oxygenated blood through the organ to better preserve it for future use – to flush blood infused with an enzyme through the deceased kidney.

Serena MacMillan ( Image courtesy: Kidney Research UK )

“Our confidence was boosted after we applied the enzyme to a piece of human kidney tissue and saw very quickly that the antigens were removed,” said MacMillan.

“After this, we knew that the process is feasible, and we just had to scale up the project to apply the enzyme to full-size human kidneys. By taking B-type human kidneys and pumping the enzyme through the organ using our normothermic prefusion machine, we saw in a matter of just a few hours that we had converted a B-type kidney into an O-type.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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