As scientists around the world work tirelessly to design new medicines for COVID-19, doctors have turned to convalescent plasma therapy to see if it could be a viable treatment option for coronavirus. While conservative measurements place the widespread availability of a coronavirus vaccine around somewhere in early 2021, convalescent plasma may potentially serve as a stopgap measure until then.
But what exactly is convalescent plasma and can it really help treat the current pandemic?
What Is Convalescent Plasma?
Convalescent plasma is derived from the blood of individuals who have recovered from an infection. The general idea behind convalescent plasma is that individuals who’ve recovered from an infection develop the antibodies to that infection in their blood. Antibodies are found in plasma which is separated from a patient’s blood through a process called plasmapheresis.
What Is Convalescent Plasma Therapy?
Convalescent plasma therapy is an exploratory approach that involves giving patients infected with a virus an infusion of plasma from a recovered donor. The idea being that antibodies in the donor’s blood that are unique to an infection and can be used to help someone else fight off the same exact infection.
Convalescent plasma therapy is not a new medical application. It has been applied in the prevention and treatment of epidemics for over a century, with many documented uses dating as far back as the Spanish Influenza in 1918 and even further. Several studies conducted during the Spanish Influenza pandemic suggested that convalescent plasma therapy helped curb the mortality rate by 21 percent in those who were treated. There are also instances of convalescent plasma being used to successfully treat polio, measles, and even Ebola.
Will Convalescent Plasma Therapy Work for COVID-19?
The hope is that patients who are experiencing a severe or prolonged battle with COVID-19 can be infused with plasma donated from individuals who have developed protective immunity against the virus and assist in their recovery. Beyond those who are severely ill, the therapy also has potential to help prevent patients with chronic medical conditions who are experiencing mild symptoms from developing any further, more fatal, coronavirus-related complications. However as of the date on this post, convalescent plasma therapy is only being used as a treatment for patients who are experiencing a severe bout with COVID-19 and are not responding to other treatments or drugs.
The preprint database MedRxiv looked at 12 trials around the world where hospitalized COVID-19 patients received convalescent plasma therapy. The results of these trials, which included a testing pool of more than 800 participants, suggested that the mortality rate among patients given convalescent plasma treatment was 13%, compared with 25% among patients who were given standard treatments. While these studies showed initial benefit for some patients, more trials will need to be conducted and more peer reviewed studies will need to be published before there can be any definitive conclusions.
The Importance of Antibody Testing
In order for convalescent plasma therapy to be effective, there first needs to be a database of plasma donors who have recovered from COVID-19. To determine if these donors possess the proper antibodies a IgG/IgM antibody test will need to be conducted. The results derived from these tests will be instrumental in helping researchers develop convalescent plasma therapies and help curb the future spread COVID-19.
What ThermoGenesis is Doing in the Fight Against COVID-19?
ThermoGenesis is currently developing a convalescent plasma strategy using our newly acquired intellectual property for developing fully human antibody therapeutics against the coronavirus. These tools can help researchers quickly identify individuals who have developed protective immunity against the virus and then, using our proprietary cell processing platform, isolate the convalescent plasma and immune cells. The hope is to create a highly efficient processing method for making convalescent plasma while also pursuing the development of other antibody therapies against COVID-19.
How We Can Help
ThermoGenesis Holdings, Inc. (formerly Cesca Therapeutics Inc.), is a pioneer and market leader in the development and commercialization of automated cell processing technologies for the cell and gene therapy fields. We market a full suite of solutions for automated clinical biobanking, COVID-19 antibody testing, point-of-care applications and large scale cell processing and manufacturing with a special emphasis on the emerging CAR T immunotherapy market. We are committed to making the world a healthier place by creating innovative health solutions for everyone.
If you’re a healthcare professional looking for more information on how to buy our COVID-19 IgG/IgM antibody testing kit, visit our website and request a quote today.