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Novel genetic blood test

An international team of researchers is developing a new genetic blood test that allows a much closer match between donors and recipients//. The Bloodchip gives more details in the result than the existing tests. The current tests look for blood types while the Bloodchip looks for DNA “signatures”.

A spokeswoman for the National Blood Service, which is helping develop the test, said, “It could be "a lifesaver" for those needing regular transfusions. It is hoped the test could be of particular benefit to people with blood conditions such as sickle cell anaemia, haemophilia, thalassaemias and leukaemia.”

The developers of Biochip warn that patients with these conditions, who require routine blood transfusions, can develop life-threatening side effects on receiving not a properly matched blood.

3,000 healthy blood samples are being tested with Biochip as a "proof of principle". The results reveal its accuracy compared to the current tests. This was done with the intention of getting European health and safety approval.

The existing serological tests identify the blood group; A, B, AB or O and the rhesus antigen, thus Rh positive or negative. Whereas, the Biochip test identifies nearly 9 other possible differences in the blood, like the Duffy system - blood can be Duffy A or Duffy B.

When differences in each system are considered, the test could detect around 116 blood type DNA "signatures" Thee DNA extracted from blood samples are tested on glass microscopic slides. Chemicals are added to the DNA on the slide, resulting in reaction that gives out fluorescent colours. A scanner in which the slide is placed determines blood types.

Professor Neil Avent, director of University of West England's Centre for Research in Biomedicine who has been involved in the research, said: "Blood transfusions are inherently safe. But with the compatibility between the donor and the recipient being tested using serological tec
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