New treatment uses plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients at Ohio State
Researchers hope to determine which antibodies perform best against the virus
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has transfused the first patient in central and northern Ohio with plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient.
The transfusion is part of a nationwide effort to provide this plasma, also known as convalescent plasma, to people who are ill with life-threatening COVID-19 disease. People who’ve recovered from COVID-19 often have antibodies – proteins in the blood – that could possibly attack the virus. Ohio State researchers will also study the donated plasma to learn which antibodies perform best.
“This ‘compassionate use’ therapy shows promise to lessen the severity or shorten the length of COVID-19. Our new program involves a routine blood donation process to collect the plasma that will be given to critically ill COVID-19 patients to fight this infection,” said Scott Scrape, a pathologist and director of transfusion medicine. “While this is a new treatment for COVID-19, throughout history, medical professionals have used antibodies from the blood of recovered patients as a treatment for infections when vaccines or other medications weren’t yet available.”
The medical center is joining other academic health centers, government and industry leaders in a national consortium to coordinate expanded access to convalescent plasma for patients in need across the country.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 through an emergency investigational new drug application process with academic institutions to evaluate its safety and efficacy.
“Our No. 1 objective is to identify therapeutic plasma that can be given to severely ill patients,” said Rama K. Mallampalli, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. “We also plan to conduct correlative research studies to learn more about which specific antibodies are most effective for treatment, and which donors mounted the best immune responses. As a large academic health center, we’re well positioned to conduct this research and help patients get the most current treatments when they need it most.”
Ohio State is partnering with Milwaukee-based Versiti Inc. to collect blood from fully recovered COVID-19 patients, and each blood donation can treat up to two people, Scrape said.
“When we notified people about their positive COVID-19 test results, many patients asked us what they could do to help others once they were fully recovered. This is how they can help, by donating their blood to aid the critically ill,” Scrape said.
The convalescent plasma must be collected from donors who meet all regular blood donor eligibility criteria. The collection center will confirm eligibility on the day of donation. In addition, convalescent plasma donors must meet these criteria:
- Prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test.
- Complete resolution of symptoms at least 28 days prior to donation.
- Negative for HLA antibodies. Some women who’ve been pregnant, and males or females who’ve had a blood transfusion, will test positive for HLA antibodies.