UC Health researching COVID-19 treatment using plasma from recovered patients

Updated: Apr. 14, 2020 at 12:16 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A coronavirus treatment using convalescent plasma from people who have already recovered from the virus is now being studied nationally and right here in the Tri-State area.

The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and UC Health is working with the Mayo Clinic to expand on the research of using convalescent plasma for treating COVID-19 patients.

The patients who fully recover from the coronavirus do so because their blood contains the antibodies capable of fighting off the virus causing the illness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“In initial cases, patients with severe COVID-19 who have been treated with convalescent plasma have shown improvement, but more research is needed,” says Dr. Moises Huaman, assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC College of Medicine, a UC Health physician, and the local principal investigator on this protocol. “With no other approved treatment options currently available, this therapy is worth exploring, especially for the sickest COVID-19 patients.”

Dr. Huaman explained that convalescent therapy has been used since the 1890s to fight and prevent diseases like measles, SARS, Ebola, H1N1 flu and polio.

UC and UC Health will work with Hoxworth Blood Center to get convalescent plasma from donors who are eligible.

David Oh, MD, Chief Medical Director of Hoxworth Blood Center is already working with Dean Kereiakes, MD, Medical Director of the Christ Hospital Research Institute to collect and distribute convalescent plasma.

“The mission of Hoxworth Blood Center is to save lives in the community,” says Dr. Oh. “The trial involving convalescent plasma therapy for critically ill COVID-19 patients is an extension of our mission.”

Last Thursday, Lt. Gov. John Husted announced the FDA gave the go-ahead for clinical trials created by the Lindner Research Center at The Christ Hospital which could save the lives of those battling the coronavirus.

Kereiakes, who is is the primary investigator on the clinical trial, explains because there are no specific antiviral drugs or vaccines for COVID-19, effective treatments are needed to rescue the sickest.

“Here is what people can do, that is, to come in and give plasma," he said. "That is what we need is for the public or have survived this to do. The rate-limiting step is the lack of plasma, convalescent plasma from people that have survived this infection. That is what we have to have at Christ.”

If you meet these requirements you are eligible to donate plasma to Hoxworth Blood Center:

  • Have recovered from a documented infection of COVID-19 and have been symptom-free for at least 28 days.
  • Believe they had COVID-19. The product will be tested for antibodies following donation. If your plasma does not contain high levels of antibodies to COVID-19, it may be used to help save the lives of other patients.

Those eligible can fill out the eligibility form and get their donation scheduled by clicking the following link: Convalescent Plasma Donor Questionnaire.

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