The global COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the medical community into action to find treatments to help those battling the coronavirus. One of the earliest discussed potential therapies for COVID-19 was the use of convalescent plasma therapy, a well-known treatment that centers on the blood component.
Blood plasma contains antibdies, proteins that fight off infection. When a person gets sick, their body develops antibodies against the disease in an effort to overcome the illness. These antibodies stay in the plasma even after the person has recovered from the disease. Convalescent plasma is plasma that contains antibodies and can be transferred to sick patients in an effort to help them recover sooner.
Fighting Disease Throughout History
The use of convalescent plasma in medicine is nothing new. In fact, one of our company’s founders, Emil von Behring, won the first Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1901 for using convalescent plasma to treat diphtheria.
During the 1918 “Spanish Flu” pandemic, studies found that convalescent plasma might have been effective in fighting the disease. Before antibiotics were discovered in the 1940s, convalescent plasma was the only targeted therapy available for acute infections, according to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine.
In the early days of what was to become the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors in China quickly experimented with convalescent plasma in patients battling the coronavirus. Recent studies suggest that COVID-19 may be effective when given early in the course of treatment.
Potential for Another Option
As studies into the use of direct infusions of convalescent plasma continue, researchers are also exploring an alternative approach. CSL Behring is part of the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, a coalition of plasma-industry leaders that is developing a potential hyperimmune therapy derived from convalescent plasma. The hyperimmune medicine is a concentrated serum that contains a high-potency of antibodies to fight SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health is currently conducting a clinical trial to determine if the hyperimmune medicine is a safe and effective treatment.
Any use of convalescent plasma in the battle against the pandemic depends on continued donations from those who have recovered from coronavirus. If you have recovered from COVID-19, please visit thefightisinus.org to find out how you can donate your plasma.