22 May 2018

Whole genome sequencing will make it possible to improve matching of patients with donors during transfusion, researchers report today.

The technique has been successfully tested in a computer simulation, US researchers report.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as the New York Blood Center, USA, used the MedSeq Project  to develop and validate an algorithm that can determine differences in individuals' blood types with more than 99% accuracy.

Writing in Lancet Haematology, the authors describe how they built a database and developed a computer software algorithm, known as bloodTyper, that could rapidly and accurately predict an individual's blood group antigen profile from genomic sequences.

The team validated the software by comparing it with traditional and more labour-intensive methods and found it was more than 99% accurate when typing from the MedSeq Project participants' genomes.

First author Dr William Lane, director of Clinical Laboratory Informatics and assistant director of the Tissue Typing Laboratory in the BWH Department of Pathology, said: “Blood transfusion complications are common in patients needing chronic transfusion, but with current technology it is not cost effective to do blood typing for all antigens.

 “But the algorithm we have developed can be applied to type everyone for all relevant blood groups at a low cost once sequencing is obtained.”

Co-first author Dr Connie Westhoff, of the New York Blood Center, said the approach could become one of the first routine uses of genomics for medical care for patients needing blood transfusion.

 “It could prevent serious or even fatal complications because once patients are sensitised they have a life-long risk of haemolytic transfusion reactions if blood transfusion is needed in an emergency.”

Source: Automated typing of red blood cell and platelet antigens: a whole-genome sequencing study. Lancet Haematology 18 May 2018

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3026(18)30053-X


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