The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval to the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health to launch clinical trials to determine whether blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors can be used to prevent infections in unexposed healthcare workers and first responders, high-risk individuals, and close contacts of COVID-19 patients, and whether it can treat COVID-19 patients with severe disease. The study is funded with $2.5 million in support from Amazon.
Jessica Justman, MD, ICAP’s senior technical director, is part of the interdisciplinary study team.
The study is being led by W. Ian Lipkin, MD, and includes investigators Thomas Briese, PhD, and Nischay Mishra, PhD, of the Columbia Mailman School; Andrew Eisenberger, MD, Eldad Hod, MD, Max O’Donnell, MD, and Steve Spitalnik, MD, of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center; and Beth Shaz, MD, of the New York Blood Center.
“We appreciate the FDA’s approval of this trial, which has the potential to help us protect courageous frontline healthcare workers and first responders during this crisis,” says Lipkin. “Plasma therapy is a long-established approach, developed by Paul Ehrlich and Emil von Behring for treatment of diphtheria and recognized in 1901 by the first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Just as COVID-19 has taken us back to classic methods for outbreak containment like isolation, through a novel use we are rediscovering the lifesaving potential of a classic strategy like plasma therapy.”