A Missouri university “could be on the verge of a breakthrough’ in COVID-19,” reports the St. Louis Business Journal.
Washington University in St. Louis has received clearance from the FDA to test a century-old idea in the battle against the virus SARS-coronavirus-2, which causes the disease COVID-19.
The idea is simple: Those who successfully combat the virus develop antibodies built to suppress it.
Because this coronavirus is novel—that is, human bodies have never seen it before, as it was until recently found only in bats—we have no built-up immunities to it. However, those who contract the virus and beat it have immunity going forward.
Researchers at Wash U are working to taking blood from survivors and using the antibodies in their blood to treat critically ill patients. The treatment is referred to as the use of “convalescent plasma.”
“This is a stone-age approach for the modern age,” Dr. Jeffery Henderson, a researcher with the Washington University School of Medicine, told the Business Journal. “The immune system of somebody who’s already seen the disease can be used to give an assist to somebody who hasn’t yet seen the disease.”
While this is not a “cure” for the disease, it can help the critically ill battle it, which is what the research team received FDA clearance to try.
Without making an explicit connection to this new treatment, blood donation centers around the country have put out an urgent call for plasma donations.