Needle-Free Blood Typing May Be On the Way


blood cells
blood cells

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Everybody has blood, but we all don’t have the same type. So one donated pint of it may help — or do harm — depending on the recipe your genes had used to make your own blood. That’s why hospitals must collect a sample of blood and test it to know which donated blood to safely transfuse into patients who have suffered catastrophic blood loss. But that may change, a Kuwaiti teen now reports.

She’s just shown that it’s possible to discriminate between different types of blood using infrared light. In future, she says, this may mean nurses or lab workers could simply shine a light into your skin — and analyze the light that reflects back — to know which blood donation would be right for you. The good news: For this low-cost method, no needles would be required!

Blood is a complicated soup of particles and proteins. These include white blood cells, which help fight infection, and platelets, which help blood clot after an injury. But red blood cells are the most common. They deliver oxygen to tissues throughout the body and transport carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Red blood cells are important for another reason, too, notes Zainab Alnakkas. This 17-year-old at the Bayan High School for Girls in Kuwait points out that certain proteins or other substances on the surface of red blood cells help someone’s immune system react and fight foreign substances. These substances are known collectively as antigens.

There are four major blood types: A, B, AB, and O. A, B, and AB all have antigens (known by those letter names). Blood having none of these is known as O type. Particular proteins on red blood cells determines whether a person’s blood type hosts another type of antigen, known as Rh. Those that don’t are known as “Rh-negative” and those that do are considered “Rh-positive.” If the immune system encounters an…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

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Sasha Harriet

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