Covid-19 Story Tip: Department of Defense Funds $35M COVID-19 Blood Plasma Trials Led by Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have received $35 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to test the effectiveness of a convalescent blood plasma outpatient treatment. The treatment is a transfusion of a blood product from COVID-19 survivors that contains antibodies that may help the patient’s immune system fight the virus.
Two clinical trials totaling 1,100 people will be conducted at over 20 outpatient centers in medical centers across the U.S., including the Navajo Nation, and will help researchers determine whether convalescent blood plasma therapy can effectively be used to treat people in the early stage of COVID-19 illness or prevent the infection in those at high risk of exposure to the virus at their home or jobs.
The prevention trial will include 500 people who have been exposed to COVID-19 in their home or at work as health care providers. A second trial will recruit 600 participants who have early COVID-19 disease, meaning they are within eight days of their first symptoms but are not sick enough to be in a hospital. All participants will be over age 18. The researchers aim to complete recruitment of participants to the trials in early fall 2020.
Convalescent blood plasma therapy involves transfusing a portion of blood called plasma from people who have recovered from the virus. When separated from red and white blood cells and platelets in the blood, plasma is the yellow-tinged liquid that includes proteins called antibodies, which glom on to foreign substances such as viruses and either mark them for destruction by the immune system or disrupt a virus’ ability to multiply and grow.
There is very little clinical data proving the effectiveness of using the therapy in outpatient clinics, according to the researchers. Currently, only hospitalized patients have access to any type of therapy for COVID-19.
The research team is available to discuss this research and the new funding.
For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus. For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit coronavirus.jhu.edu.