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An old source for potential new Covid-19 drugs: blood serum

On February 27, researchers in China published a brief note in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases in which there was some evidence of the success of convalescent plasma in the treatment of Ebola and previous respiratory viruses, including SARS, MERS, and influenza , H1N1 were listed. On the same day, Arturo Casadevall, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, published a comment in the Wall Street Journal about the use of measles at the time to treat measles in the 1930s called convalescent serum. Take the blood from people who have recovered, clot and remove the red blood cells and transfer what is left – the "serum" ̵

1; to people in the early stages of the disease. (They need to adjust their blood types.) This process not only relieves symptoms and may save lives, but also speeds up the path to immunity, like something between a drug and a vaccine. In addition to measles, it was used against polio, mumps, and even the 1918 influenza pandemic.

“When serum was used at the time, they did not have the same understanding of antibodies. Antibodies hadn't really been purified the same way, ”said Liise-anne Pirofski, head of the Infectious Diseases Department at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, and one of the first advocates of using plasma in Covid-19. She is also a long-time colleague of Casadevall, a co-advocate for the approach. “Here we are in this crisis and something that was used 100 years ago could save us now. I just think it's very cool, ”she continues.

Casadevall's comment aroused the interest of experts in infectious diseases and other scientists. Colleagues started pinging him and said they wanted to turn the idea into a project. Casadevall and Pirofski have already worked on an article for this purpose for the Journal of Clinical Investigation : "The option for convalescent sera to contain Covid-19". Since then, this loose group has grown to perhaps 100 researchers. Casadevall has since tweeted that the Covid 19 recovery plasma project is even supported by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Your idea is simple: Develop studies and arguments for “compassionate use” at the same time. Give serum antibodies to people with early Covid-19 symptoms. Compassionate Use, the term used by the Food and Drug Administration for special authorization to carry out experimental treatments, is usually used for people who are at immediate risk of death or who have an illness for whom there is no cure or better treatment. In this case, they would give convalescent plasma to Covid-19 patients, just as doctors have been using plasma for decades – with the aim of preventing emergency room personnel from landing in the intensive care unit and breathing with a ventilator. [19659002] As a second option, researchers will try to test post-exposure prophylaxis and deliver the antibodies to people who may be exposed to the virus, such as healthcare workers, to induce immunity in their bodies as long as the foreign antibodies . This "passive immunity" would not be permanent like vaccination, but it could keep these workers healthy and at work.

"And there is a third possible application, namely hail Mary-ing people who are really sick," says Michael Joyner, physiologist at the Mayo Clinic and one of the organizers of the group. No one knows yet whether this approach will work at all. However, Joyner says it's worth testing this option. "In such an emergency, the enemy of the good is better." Joyner is not a specialist in infectious diseases. He is a physiologist who studies how oxygen moves in the body. But he is a networker and wanted to be part of the mobilization of scientists who are fighting the pandemic.

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