ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine and three other medical centers were awarded a total of $7 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHBLI) to study convalescent plasma in reducing symptoms of COVID-19 in patients with mild cases, Michigan Medicine announced Thursday.
“Most of the other studies are focused on people who are so sick that they need to be in the ICU,” said Dr. Frederick Korley. “And our study question is: as soon as you are diagnosed with this illness, can we give you convalescent plasma and prevent you from developing a very severe case of this disease?”
Korley, an associate professor of emergency medicine, is one of the principal researchers at Michigan Medicine. He said convalescent plasma -- donated by survivors -- contains antibodies that can bind to COVID-19 and neutralize it.
“Our hope is that if we can get to the patient early enough then -- with convalescent plasma -- we can neutralize the virus before the virus does a lot of damage to the body,” Korley said.
The study will enroll ER patients that have mild COVID-19 symptoms, but a high-risk for developing severe complications.
“We’re looking for people who are over 50 years old,” Korley said. “People who have comorbidities, like hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, people who are immunocompromised people who are obese, and people who have sickle cell disease.”
Researchers hope to have results by November.
“I think it’s absolutely critical,” Korley said. “Because the more treatments we have, the less afraid we’ll be this illness.”
Michigan hospitals enrolling patients in the study will include Spectrum Health, Detroit Receiving, Harper Hospital, Sinai-Grace and Henry Ford.