A new set of blood groups termed the Er blood group has reportedly been discovered, according to recent study that was published in the journal Blood. The revelation sheds light on a 30-year-old mystery involving the terrible infant deaths of two women. It will enhance understanding of the type of care required to treat persons with a rare blood group variant.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) compared one mother’s blood sample to numerous others to determine precisely what made her blood different.
They studied three blood group antigens (molecules on the surface of red blood cells that can trigger an attack on the immune system) that did not fit into any established blood group system. In doing so they confirmed a new set of blood groups, the Er system, the 44th to be described. It is linked to a specific protein called Piezo1 on the surface of red blood cells.
Finding a new blood group system is like finding a new planet.
“Learning about a new blood group system is like learning about a new planet. It broadens the scope of our reality, says Daniela Hermelin of Saint Louis University School of Medicine to WIRED, who was not involved in the study.
3 of these antigens (Era, Erb, & Er3), as well as the discovery of two new antigens (Er4 & Er5), are shown to have genetic roots in the new study.
Er4 and Er5, two recently discovered blood group variants, are incredibly uncommon and have been linked to hemolytic disease in foetuses & newborns. When a mother’s immune system attacks the blood of her unborn child, this sickness develops.
Nicole Thornton, one of the study’s authors, reportedly sensed that Piezo1 was implicated after comparing the genomes of the participants in study, according to an article by WIRED.
Blood cells are perceived as “foreign” by genetic differences that code for Piezo1, a protein connected to the new blood system.
She and her coworkers found that the gene variants that code for this protein varied among people with distinct Er blood types. Due to the genetic variations, a small fraction of persons have different amino acids or protein building blocks in their Piezo1 protein. Their immune systems recognise blood cells containing the more common Piezo1 protein as foreign.
She continues by saying that the discoveries broaden our knowledge of the possible consequences of blood incompatibility on expecting moms and their unborn children. Now that cases of blood incompatibility can be linked to an Er blood type, there is a greater likelihood that doctors will be able to accurately identify and treat such a condition by giving the baby a blood transfusion while still in the womb.
British team beats U.S. researchers in discovering the mysteries of the new Er blood group
According to WIRED, a different set of researchers from the other side of the Atlantic has been working to solve the puzzles around the new Er blood group. Unexpectedly, the British team won the race.
Connie Westhoff of the New York Blood Center, a participant from “the other study,” asserts that the investigation may not be finished. Westhoff hypothesises that more genetic mutations could be connected to the discovery of this rare blood.
What are blood group systems?
Most people are familiar with the ABO and Rh- systems, which are the two primary blood grouping systems. There are other blood group systems as well, and each has a different range of reaction risk. Additionally, within each blood group system, various blood group antigens are also present.
Despite the fact that most blood group systems (aside from ABO) are probably not observed by most people, this does not imply that they are not important. For patients who depend on blood transfusions as well as pregnant women, minor differences can have clinical consequences.
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