Applications of T-ECO

Figure: Schematic "workflow" of the application of T-ECO. By converting donor blood of type A or B to O via the activity of our enzymes (e.g. EABase) the relatively quick creation of emergeny donor blood is possible. This emergency donor blood of type O can then be transfused to patients in order to save lifes.

Blood transfusion and donation of organs are an essential feature in medicine today and used in everyday live. Usually, only blood type specific transfusions can be accomplished, as blood types A and B have specific sugar antigens on their surface leading to the activation of antibodies recognizing and destroying unknown red blood cells. Especially, this is a problem regarding the blood type O. In emergency situations time is often limited and patients can not be tested for their blood groups. Therefore, blood type O is used first to prevent hemagglutination which outlines the need of blood type O. Also, the blood shelf life is limited to about a month, increasing the need of fresh blood.
The aim of our project was to develop a system converting blood types A and B to the universal usable blood type O (see Figure). This would change medicine dramatically, as patients could accept the freshly converted blood type independent of their own.

Of special interest is the blood group Bombay. These patients have a rare mutation that make them unable to receive even blood group O.

To achieve this aim, several approaches are possible. Since large amounts of blood group O are needed a large scale approach had to be chosen. To convert large amounts of blood while keeping the costs of the system low, we are planning to design a column based method. The resin is coated with specific conversion enzymes and donated blood can be pumped through the column. Blood which is moving through the resin is converted, while enzymes as well as other contaminants are not present in the donated blood (also see Figure).
The usage of a column design has several other advantages: if conversion after one passage is not complete the blood can be pumped through the column again and thus increase the incubation time of the enzyme to the blood. Even a circular device is thinkable, which cycles the blood for a defined number over the column until a sufficient conversion is achieved. This approach guarantees complete conversion while reducing protein consumption.
Another advantage is the reusability of this system. One conversion column can be used several times, this reduces costs and improves efficiency of the system.

Taken all features together, T-ECO could help to overcome the shortage of highly demanded blood types and ultimately save lives.