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What Does Blood Plasma Therapy Mean for COVID-19?

There’s some exciting preliminary evidence that something called “blood plasma therapy” might be an option when it comes to treating COVID-19—but what exactly is blood plasma therapy and how sure we we that it will work?
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A national initiative called the Expanded Access Program has been jump started by Dr. Michael Joyner and his team in order to help determine where exactly plasma therapy fits into the current COVID-19 pandemic.

If Dr. Joyner and his team can prove plasma therapy works for COVID-19, it could be a viable option to control the virus’ spread

We spoke with Dr. Joyner to hear more about the research his team is doing and to learn more about how blood plasma therapy works and what it could not only mean for treating COVID-19 but also future pandemics.

Find out more in this Elements.

#bloodplasmatherapy #covid19 #covidtreatment

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National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project
We are a group of physicians and scientists from 57 institutions in 46 states who have self-organized for the purpose of investigating the use of convalescent plasma in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The nucleus of the organization sprung from a coalition of biomedical researchers assembled several years ago to refocus studies of health and disease more squarely on public health priorities.

COVID-19 expanded access program
Responding to the unprecedented challenge of fighting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Government is supporting a national Expanded Access Program to collect and provide convalescent plasma to patients in need across the country. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients contains antibodies that may help fight the disease. Working collaboratively with industry, academic, and government partners, Mayo Clinic will serve as the lead institution for the program.

What Is Convalescent Blood Plasma, and Why Do We Care About It?
Those antibodies — your internal army working to vanquish foreign invaders — are contained in plasma. And once you’ve recovered, or convalesced, from a given virus, those antibodies stick around in your plasma for a certain amount of time, ready to fight that virus if it comes back. That length of time varies, and each virus requires its own antibodies, meaning that SARS antibodies, for example, are powerless to stop MERS. But here’s the thing: Your soldiers can sometimes fight for other people. Doctors can extract convalescent plasma from a recovered patient, then transfuse it into a patient who is fighting the disease you recovered from. This means your antibodies may help that person’s own immune system in its war against the disease by accelerating the time it takes to develop its own army of antibodies.

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