Thanks to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration green light, and some financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the State of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University researchers will proceed to test a therapy for COVID-19 that uses plasma from recovering patients. Arturo Casadevall, the Johns Hopkins infectious disease expert, has been working tirelessly along with many other colleagues and collaborators for the proposed the use of convalescent plasma to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients and to boost the immune systems of health care providers and first responders. The work by Casadevall and team are inspiring doctors across America to consider also becoming Principal Investigators. How do we know? They are part of the TrialSite Network and are requesting TrialSite News to help them get involved. Since TrialSite News announced the National COVID-19 Plasma project, hundreds of doctors have commented and several have expressed interest in joining this national plasma research network. Their mission—expand their influence to take on the battle against COVID-19 and help collect, isolate and process blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to determine the efficacy of this approach to save more lives.
The Study Hypothesis
Johns Hopkins University seeks to identify if the use of plasma from recovered patients can be effective in protecting health care providers and first responders from SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is this Approach of using Plasma Transfusion Novel?
No. The strategy of isolating plasma is a long-established technology and recent advances makes it as safe as a blood transfusion. For example, providers use plasma transfusions all the time to help save lives.
The $4 Million Funding—Expedited by FDA Actions
A public-private funding group came together to take on COVID-19—the effort involved Bloomberg Philanthropies and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the joint effort to fund research into the potential therapeutic uses of COVID-19 convalescent plasma led by Arturo Casadevall. The funding consists of a $3 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies in addition to $1 million in backing from the State of Maryland.
Positive Trend: Doctors Seeking to Become Investigators to Battle COVID-19
Since TrialSite News published the story about the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma project, a number of physicians in the TrialSite Network have come forth and expressed interest in participating in any plasma-focused clinical trials. Although COVID-19 is creating health and economic havoc in the nation, it is also bringing people together in new ways. One of the biggest obstacles facing research is the lack of patient and physician participation. It is widely known that many patients won’t participate in research unless their doctor recommends such a course of action. And in the Untied States, only 3% of the million or so doctors actually serve as investigators. Hence, the positive implications of several doctors active with TrialSite News that have expressed interest in making the move to research and becoming an investigator—to join the war against COVID-19.
This, of course, is thanks to the work of Johns Hopkins and others working to ready this convalescent plasma network for action.
Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, Chair, Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, Alfred & Jill Sommer Professor and Chair, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor