Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commission is looking at plasma as a possible therapeutic treatment for COVID-19 patients.
The EU executive identified 24 projects that are expected to build on new programmes, or expand existing ones, that seek to collect plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19.
The plasma donations are intended for the treatment of patients with the disease, which involves convalescent plasma being transfused to sick patients to boost their immunity and ability to fight the virus.
“People talk a lot about finding a vaccine. But a drug is equally important. I think that in 2-3 years we could have a highly potent coronavirus drug in clinical development that could make the difference between life and death”, said the managing director of the Centre for Drug Design and Discovery (CD3) Patrick Chaltin.
The use of plasma as a therapeutic solution can also be provided to the industry for the purification of antibodies in order to make a COVID-19 medicinal product — immunoglobin.
According to Cochrane, the global independent network of researchers and healthcare professionals, people who have recovered from COVID-19 develop natural defences in their blood, the famous antibodies.
Antibodies and immunoglobin
“Antibodies are found in part of the blood called plasma. Plasma from blood donated from recovered patients, which contains COVID-19 antibodies, can be used to make two preparations: first, convalescent plasma, which is plasma that contains these antibodies. Second, hyper immune immunoglobulin, which is more concentrated, and therefore contains more antibodies”, Cochrane stated in October 2020.
“When it comes to research on therapeutics for COVID-19, all options have to be explored to make sure that safe and effective treatments can be made available as quickly as possible.
Thanks to the many applicants who have replied to the Commission’s call, plasma collection can now be increased through the selected projects, which will help in the use of convalescent plasma as a possible promising treatment”, said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
Plasma transfusion is a potentially promising therapy for COVID-19 patients that can be made widely available at relatively short notice by blood services across the EU, the Commission says.
The EU guidance document on the collection and transfusion of convalescent COVID-19 plasma was first published on April 2020 and updated on December 2020.