Nov. 9. 2022 -- What's your blood type? Most people are familiar with the common ones such as A, B, and O. But have you heard of "Er"? Scientists have discovered five more blood types in this uncommon group.
The discovery is important to help treat people with an uncommon blood type when they are having health problems. When a blood cell has an antigen that the body does not recognize as one of its own, the immune system kicks in, targeting those cells for destruction. But in some cases, a pregnant mother's blood type doesn't match her baby's, for example, causing complications.
The new blood group is called Er or erantigens. There are five blood types in this group based on genetic variations of what's known as the Piezo1 protein, which is found on the surfaces of red blood cells. Piezo1 gets its name from the Greek word for pressure and is involved in many important processes in the lungs and kidneys and in sensing blood flow in the vascular system.
Investigators, led by Vanja Karamatic Crew, PhD, a senior scientist with the NHS Blood and Transplant in Bristol, England, used cutting-edge DNA sequencing and gene-editing techniques to show that Piezo1 is the carrier for these sites.
The researchers published their findings in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology. And with the discovery of the genetic basis of new uncommon blood groups, scientists can develop new tests to identify which people have them.