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Sharing Experience, Hope in the Fight Against Pandemic

CSL Behring experts detail progress toward potential COVID-19 therapy to global audiences.

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Digital illustration of COVID-19 virus

As the quick spread of COVID-19 has shown us, viruses have no respect for borders or boundaries and global cooperation is key to effectively addressing a pandemic. 

One of the clearest examples of such collaboration is the formation of the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, a partnership between plasma industry leaders, including CSL Behring, which is working to produce a potential hyperimmune treatment derived from the plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients. Interest in the project has been understandably high, so CSL Behring leaders working on the project have been virtually attending conferences to present the latest developments to the global plasma industry. 

Douglas Lee, Senior Vice President of Plasma Product Development for CSL Behring, presented highlights of the Alliance’s efforts to China industry colleagues in during the recent Plasma Summit.

“The goal is to really bring forward a hyperimmune in a time of global need,” Lee told the virtual gathering. “This pandemic requires bold moves and these industry partners have come together to bring the opportunity forward.”

The meeting was a joint event co-organized by the industry group Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA) and China’s Parenteral Drug Industry. The annual event is billed as an opportunity for the two groups to share the latest developments in the plasma industry and this year plasma-based efforts to treat COVID-19 took center stage. In addition to industry leaders from the U.S. and Europe, participants heard from Chinese experts on the use of convalescent plasma and potential hyperimmune treatments. 

Hyperimmunes are antibodies isolated from the plasma of donors who have been exposed to a specific antigen, in this case the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.  The resulting antibody product has a high specificity to the antigen of interest.

The hyperimmune effort, according to Lee, is just one of many needed responses being developed across the pharmaceutical industry to “provide a multiplicity of options for healthcare providers.”

“Hyperimmune therapies have already been shown to be effective at treating severe respiratory infections,” Lee added. “We believe this is a reasonable and great opportunity to provide another option for treating the disease.”

Nathan Roth, Vice President for Plasma Product Development for CSL Behring, virtually presented on the hyperimmune project at a recent Madrid-based symposium. Roth said there is excitement in the medical community about a hyperimmune because there have been very few treatment options approved for COVID-19.

“There's still this big space out there for therapeutics to come in and make an impact,” Roth added.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health recently launched a Phase 3 clinical trial to determine if the hyperimune is save and effective. If approved, Lee said the hyperimmune could be available later this year at the earliest. One of the top priorities of the Alliance is to ensure the potential treatment is widely accessible to patients around the world.

The Alliance and its efforts illustrate the plasma industry’s dedication to becoming part of the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Amy Efantis, President & CEO of the PPTA at the China meeting. 

“We're really proud of the work that our companies have done,” she said. “They came together early in the pandemic and have worked together remarkably and cooperatively. It's a really wonderful story.”

For more information on the Alliance, head to CoVIg-19PlasmaAlliance.org.