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UW Medicine and Bloodworks Northwest are looking for plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19 in attempts to research a potential plasma-derived medicine to fight the novel coronavirus.
Plasma donations — which contain proteins called antibodies that help fend off infections — have been used to create medications in the past to help treat people with different infections.
“Plasma and medication made from it are used routinely to treat many different diseases,” UW Medicine said in a news release. “It is unknown whether the antibodies in plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can help people who are ill with a COVID infection.”
The process of collecting plasma involves use separating the plasma from the cells in the blood, and then returning the remaining blood to the plasma donor. Plasma is replaced by the body and donations can be done every two weeks. Those who meet the criteria for the study and sign up to donate plasma will receive a small amount of money.
Dr. Terry Gernsheimer, a professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine, said researchers also want to get more information about people who have fought off the novel coronavirus.
“We also hope to gather demographics about COVID-19 survivors to see if there are meaningful associations, and discern as best we can how those antibodies contributed to their recovery,” Gernsheimer said. “Eventually we want to tie the donors’ characteristics with outcomes in patients who receive infusions of plasma. This study protocol does not address that, but a longer-term project would.”
People interested in donating plasma would first have an appointment with the UW Virology Research Clinic, where they would have blood drawn to determine whether they would qualify for the study.
As more COVID-19 cases are confirmed in Washington and across the country, researchers have been taking steps to test possible treatments and create a vaccine.
A clinical trial led by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine and New York University Grossman School of Medicine will study whether a commonly used anti-malarial drug could help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Last month, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute also began conducting a trial for an investigational vaccine for COVID-19. However, to fully develop a vaccine often takes at least a year or more.
The Washington State Department of Health reported nearly 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state as of Tuesday.
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