April 14, 2020 - Vanderbilt University Medical Center is recruiting volunteers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and fully recovered to donate plasma to help those who are currently ill with the virus as part of a new research study.
People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. Convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a health care provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.
"There have been reports coming out of other countries that convalescent plasma is beneficial for other patients. What Vanderbilt University Medical Center wants to do is demonstrate in a randomized control fashion that truly is the case as opposed to just anecdotal evidence," said Allison Wheeler, MD, assistant professor of Pathology and Pediatrics and principal investigator of the plasma collection arm of the study.
"The goal of our trial is truly understanding if this treatment is beneficial for patients with this infection. By studying outcomes, we can learn what could help all people with COVID-19, not just our current patients, and help people in the future know more about the use of immune plasma in treatment."
Vanderbilt's three-part convalescent plasma research program includes identifying patients who have had COVID-19 infections and who have survived; collecting plasma from people who have a high antibody titer (a strong immune response); and treating patients who currently have COVID-19. The first two parts are launching now
The inclusion criteria includes volunteers who tested positive for COVID-19, recovered, and are at least 14 days from a negative COVID-19 test; patients who tested positive and are at least 28 days free of symptoms but haven't had a negative COVID-19 test; and patients who had clinical symptoms but have never been tested for COVID. They will be tested to prove they have it.
Additionally, volunteers will need to meet the general FDA guidelines on blood donation to screen for infectious diseases and risk factors.
One unit of donated plasma has the potential to help four patients, Wheeler said. The donation procedure takes approximately one to two hours.
The VUMC convalescent plasma study is hoping to enroll 250 volunteers.