UVA Health launches clinical trial to test convalescent plasma as potential COVID-19 treatment

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, Dr. Zhou Min, a recovered COVID-19 patient who has passed his 14-day quarantine, donates plasma in the city’s blood center in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients contains antibodies that may help reduce the viral load in patients that are fighting the disease. (Chinatopix via AP, File)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — UVA Health announced Monday plans to conduct a new clinical trial testing the effectiveness of using plasma from patients who recovered from COVID-19 as a potential treatment for current patients.

Health officials say they will offer UVA Health inpatients who have tested positive for COVID-19 the opportunity to participate in the trial. Plasma from recovered patients, also known as convalescent plasma, has antibodies to COVID-19 that potentially could aid in treatment.

“Convalescent plasma has been used with success in other serious coronavirus infections such as SARS and MERS, and even in the recent Ebola virus outbreak,” says Dr. Scott Heysell, an infectious disease specialist at UVA Health and one of the lead investigators for the trial. “This option may boost the body’s own ability to coordinate an effective immune response to clearing the virus and preventing severe COVID-19 disease.”

According to the statement released by UVA Health on Monday, May 4, the convalescent plasma will come from the American Red Cross. Meanwhile, UVA physicians will reportedly call patients who are recovering from the coronavirus after previously testing positive and ask them if they are willing to be screened by the Red Cross as a potential plasma donor. Other community members who have tested positive for COVID-19 are also encouraged to contact the Red Cross to see if they are eligible for plasma donations.

“I am pleased that we are exploring another avenue in a search for an effective treatment against COVID-19,” says Dr. K. Craig Kent, UVA’s executive vice president for health affairs. “Clinical trials like this are a valuable part of the work accomplished at academic health systems.”

Representatives from the medical center say this is the second clinical trial at UVA Health examining a potential COVID-19 treatment. The first trial tested the effectiveness of remdesivir, for which the federal Food and Drug Administration has since issued emergency-use authorization as a treatment against COVID-19.

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