COVID-19 plasma study seeks to create new treatment to combat virus
A landmark study in COVID-19 antibodies entering phase two aims to create a new treatment that will prevent more COVID-19 hospitalizations after early detection of the virus in patients.
Chris Jordan is one of Hackensack Meridian Health's first 10 plasma donors of about 500 in its convalescent plasma treatment study that started back in April.
"I feel like I'm a part of something. It's helping out a bigger picture for everybody here, so it feels good," Jordan says. Jordan had COVID-19 in March and is now in his third round of plasma donations.
Dr. Michele Donato, chief of stem cell transplantation and cellular therapy at John Theurer Cancer Center, is one of the doctors behind the study's development.
"It was exhausting. It still is. We can't wait to turn the page. I think I speak as a doctor, but I think as a mom and a member of the community as well," Donato says.
Qualifying donors are first screened to make sure their plasma has high levels of antibody titers, which most effectively fight the virus. Now in phase 2 of the study, patients receive the plasma in an outpatient setting, within 96 hours of feeling onset COVID-19 symptoms.
"If you wait ‘til the second week, the damage is already been done, so we do believe that there is a rule for plasma, it has to be good plasma and it has to be administered early," Donato says.
Donors like Jordan are monitored for six months after donating to see if they still have the strong antibodies. Jordan still does, and he has advice for future donors.
"Drink plenty of water, be positive, and keep fighting," Jordan says.
The goal now with phase two is to spread the word about the study to potentially eligible patients and to continue monitoring those involved for six months after the procedure.
It takes about 45 minutes to donate the plasma and around two to three hours for a patient to receive it.