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Pitt Researchers to Study Use of Convalescent Plasma in Mitigating COVID-19 Symptoms


A University of Pittsburgh team has been awarded $7 million in federal funds as part of a collaboration of researchers who will study the role of convalescent plasma in mitigating COVID 19 symptoms in patients with mild illness, and preventing the progression of the disease from mild to severe. Convalescent plasma is derived from blood donated by persons who have recovered from COVID; it has antibodies that can bind to the virus and neutralize it. The trial aims to evaluate whether passive immunization is a safe and efficacious therapy in preventing progression from mild to severe or critical. “We are going to recruit patients who are at risk for developing severe illness and may be most likely to benefit from a preventative treatment, such as patients over 50, those with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes and patients who are immunocompromised,” said Clifton Callaway, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice-chair of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. 

The trial will study 600 COVID-19 patients at 50 U.S. medical centers who present to the emergency department with mild illness. The research will be funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA). If convalescent plasma is used when patients are just starting to show symptoms, it will hopefully decrease viral replication and the inflammatory response that can do great damage.



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