Researchers at University of Chicago Medicine are conducting clinical trials in an effort to determine whether blood plasma transfusions can be used to help treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
According to a press release, the clinical trial will use plasma donations from University of Chicago patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and have since recovered. Other residents who have recovered from the virus will also be recruited, according to researchers.
The plasma donations from those individuals will then be used to treat patients currently hospitalized at the medical center with severe symptoms of the disease.
“This trial is just the first step, but hopefully it will help us determine if plasma transfusions can be a treatment for critically ill patients with COVID-19,” Dr. Maria Lucia Madariaga, the surgeon leading the clinical trial, said in a statement.
The study will “investigate only the safety and feasibility of procedures for identifying donors, collecting plasma donations and administering transfusions,” according to the press release.
Further clinical trials will be needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment, officials said.
Doctors in the United States and abroad are also conducting tests to see whether plasma transfusions can be used to treat COVID-19. Plasma is the fluid in which blood cells are carried through the blood stream, and can also transport antibodies used to fight viruses in the body.
According to researchers at the University of Chicago, those antibodies stay in the bloodstream after a patient recovers from illness, helping to give the patient full or partial immunity to the virus after recovery.
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Those antibodies are being studied to examine whether they can help severely ill COVID-19 patients recover more quickly.
Other research studies are currently going on in Chicago medical institutions. At Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers are testing whether a drug used to treat Ebola could be used as an anti-viral treatment against COVID-19.