Chromosome 9 – It’s in the blood
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Chromosome 9 – It’s in the blood


[MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC PLAYING] Blood transfusions have been
around since the 1700s. But for the first 200 years or
so, they were pretty risky, and more often than not,
ended up killing rather curing the patient. That all changed in
1901 with the discovery of blood groups– an inherent, inherited
characteristic of blood. Nicole Thornton from the NHS
Blood and Transplant is here to tell me more, while
I do my bit donating my half an armful. [MUSIC PLAYING] So where does my blood
group come from? So your blood group is
determined by the genes that you inherit from your
mother and father. And when we’re talking about
the ABO blood group system, there are four main blood types,
which is what most people call them. We call them phenotypes. And we have group A, group
B, group O, and group AB. The genetic basis of the ABO
blood group system is the ABO gene, which is located
on chromosome 9. And you will inherit a copy from
both your mum, and one from your dad. And depending on the version of
that gene that you inherit from your parents, this will
then determine what your blood type is. So what is a blood group? Essentially, a blood group is
determined by the antigens that are present on our red
cells, and the ability to be able to detect those antigens. And an antigen is basically a
structure on your red cells, and it can be a protein
or a carbohydrate. A group A person has A antigen
on their cells. A group B person has B antigen
on their cells. An AB person has both antigens,
and a group O person doesn’t have any. When somebody has the antigen,
they don’t have the antibody to that antigen. So if they are lacking the
antigen, their body has naturally-occurring antibodies
that are against the antigen that they lack. So if you were to receive blood
of the wrong type, your body would attack the
foreign antigen. And so I’m group O. What
does that mean? So, because you’re group O, that
means that you’re a very, very useful donor because you
don’t have any A or B antigen on your cells, which means your
cells can go to anyone else of any blood type. So lots of people can
have my blood. And what about me? What can I have if I needed
a blood transfusion? Unfortunately, it means that you
can only receive group O, because you have anti-A and
anti-B in your plasma. So if you were to receive any
cells that had that antigen on them, your body would
attack them. In the laboratory that I work
in– it’s the International Blood Group Reference
Laboratory– we investigate rare
blood groups. So not just the ABO system,
because there are many other blood group systems. There’s actually currently
34 blood group systems. And that encompasses around
about 300 antigens. We’re discovering new
ones all the time. And also, there are some
antigens that aren’t assigned to a gene yet. We call them the orphans. And we’re always researching and
trying to find the genetic background to some of
these antigens. So we investigate rare mutations
that then give rise to the lack of antigens that
most people may have. And once again, if you don’t
have the antigen, you can then possibly make the antibody
to that antigen. It can make transfusion very
difficult, or finding compatible blood
very difficult. So, as you’ve heard, there are
loads of different types of blood groups. Not just ABO, but many
more besides. That’s why it’s so important
that we get as many people donating as possible, from a
wide variety of backgrounds. I’ve done my bit. I’m off to get my cup of tea.

18 thoughts on “Chromosome 9 – It’s in the blood

  1. arg >< looks like I'm just going to just listen to this one, though I've had to had my blood taken many times due to illness I still can't stand watching.. it's so bad when I do it I have to have it in the back of my hand or I freak out. 

  2. Can't donate because I'm gay. I understand why, but they really need to review the law. HIV isn't an exclusively gay disease.

  3. @The Royal Institution can you make a video on rhesus neg. and positive . What exactly they are, how they evolved etc?

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