Blood typing on a chip

Barbera Veldhuisen developed a blood group array: a new test for large-scale typing of blood groups on a chip. With this test, she wants to help patients find a better blood match. Barbera:

"If the blood groups of donor and patient do not match well during blood transfusions, the patient can produce antibodies that break down the donor blood, which may result in a dangerous transfusion reaction. Once the patient has produced several antibodies, a match is sometimes almost impossible. We see this, for example, in sickle cell disease, where there are patients who need blood transfusions throughout their lives".

Serological testing

"People have many more blood groups than the well-known ABO, up to about 350. Some of those are typed in more detail, up to a maximum of 25 blood groups. This means 25 different tests per donor. Most of the tests are serological; we mix blood cells with antibodies and look at clotting".

Blood type array

"In order to find suitable blood for more patients, we have developed a large-scale blood group typing test, incollaboration with researchers from Cambridge, Harvard, New York and the ThermoFisher company. With this so-called blood group array, we look at some 10,000 variations in the DNA of the donors and make a prediction of all blood groups, important for transfusions".

233 blood groups in one test

"In a single test for 94 people on one single chip, we determine up to 233 blood groups and variants, all at the same time. In addition, we use the array to look at blood groups and HLA molecules on blood platelets and white blood cells. We also determine variants that are important for the health of the donor.

A retrospective study has shown that the array is almost three times more likely to find a suitable blood bag for patients with multiple antibodies. The next step is to use large-scale research to prove that the test is more reliable, cheaper and better for the patient".

Better blood match

"My research is already helping patients to have a better blood match. During the study, we were able to identify 38 donors with rare blood groups that we had not picked out with the current tests."

Dr. Barbera Veldhuisen is a molecular biologist and a staff member at Professor Ellen van der Schoot's Experimental Immunohematology Department.