Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blood type - a new weapon in battle against HIV infection ?

A carbohydrate-containing antigen, termed Pk blood group which is distinct from the well-known ABO and Rh blood grouping systems, is present at variable levels on the surface of white and red blood cells in the general population. Though the percent of this type of blood Pk, is less (1 in million). The interesting thing is that, those produce excess of this blood group antigen have dramatically reduced sensitivity to HIV infection. Conversely, another slightly more common subgroup of people who do not produce any Pk (5 in a million) was found to be much more susceptible to the virus.

Though the study does not suggest that blood type alone will not determine one will get HIV exclusivel. As per the research work by Dr. Don Branch of Canadian Blood Services, it does suggest that individuals who are exposed to the virus, may be helped or hindered by their blood status in fighting the infection. The study is substantiated by the fact that by increasing the level of the Pk antigen in cells in the laboratory also resulted in heightened resistance to HIV, while lowering it increased susceptibility.

The Pk molecule has been previously studied extensively by The Research Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children Senior Scientist Dr. Cliff Lingwood; Lund University's Dr. Martin Olsson has identified underlying genetic reasons for Pk blood group variation. Hope this conclusion may pave the way for novel therapeutic approaches to induce HIV resistance and promote further understanding of the pandemic as a whole," says Dr. Lingwood.

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