Johns Hopkins gets FDA approval to test blood plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients

Johns Hopkins gets FDA approval to test blood plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients

access_time2020-04-07 15:41:06


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a clinical trial Friday that will allow Johns Hopkins University researchers to test a therapy for COVID-19 that uses plasma from recovering patients.

Arturo Casadevall, a Johns Hopkins infectious disease expert, proposed the use of convalescent plasma to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients and to boost the immune systems of health care providers and first responders. He assembled a team of physicians and scientists from around the United States to establish a network of hospitals and blood banks that can collect, isolate, and process blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors.

The strategy of isolating plasma is a long-established technology and recent advances make it as safe as a blood transfusion. The FDA's approval allows the team of researchers to begin testing the technique's effectiveness in boosting the immune systems of health care providers, first responders, and others at high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Currently there are no proven drug therapies or effective vaccines for treating the disease. Casadevall and his team believe using plasma from recovered patients could provide immediate immunity to the most at-risk individuals.


At Hopkins, the efforts to deploy convalescent plasma against COVID-19 is led by an interdisciplinary team that includes Evan Bloch and Shmuel Shoham of the School of Medicine and Andy Pekosz and David Sullivan from the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"We are grateful and encouraged that researchers can move forward with this important research aimed at protecting those most at risk, our front-line health care providers and first responders," said Bloomberg School Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie. "We also applaud the researchers' vision in the early stages of this pandemic to explore using blood plasma to treat critically ill patients."

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