Researchers have identified two new blood types to add into the already known blood types A,B, AB or O. Biologist Bryan Ballif of the University of Vermont, along with colleagues has identified two new proteins on the red blood cells that can confirm the identification of two new blood types. This discovery will add the number of blood types to a total of 32.
Aside from the 4 basic blood types, there are 26 other rarer blood types known. The latest two to be added in to the mix is called Junior and the Langereis blood types. The two molecules were identified as specialized transport proteins ABCB6 and ABCG2. This is considered as a significant discovery since the last time that a new blood type was discovered was around a decade ago.
According to the researchers, the two newly identified proteins are also associated with anticancer drug resistance. The new findings may help shed light and help improve some treatments for breast and other forms of cancers. It may also help in solving certain blood transfusion problems as well as mother and fetus incompatibility.
Although the Langereis and Junior blood types are consider rare worldwide, the researchers have found them to be somewhat common for several ethnic populations. In Japan, around 50,000 Japanese are known to be Junior negative blood types. Although the antigens for the two new blood types have been identified decades ago in pregnant women having difficulties in carrying their babies with incompatible blood types, the genetic basis of these antigens remained unknown until their recent identification by Ballif and his colleagues.
While the blood types recently identified are considered rare, health professionals may now be able to rapidly screen for the new blood group proteins in light of the new findings. “This will leave them better prepared to have blood ready when blood transfusions or other tissue donations are required,” Ballif noted.
The findings may also shed some light on organ rejection during some transplants. This may help explain to some extent why tissues and organs for transplants that seem to be a good match, end up being rejected and which can sometimes end up in death. “We don’t always know why there is rejection, but it may have to do with these proteins”, adds Ballif. The findings of the study are published in the February issue of the journal Nature Genetics.
Source: University of Vermont (2012, February 23). Blood mystery solved: Two new blood types identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 29, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223183819.htm