With a vaccine for COVID-19 still a long way from being realized, Johns Hopkins immunologist Arturo Casadevall is working to revive a century-old blood-derived treatment for use in the United States in hopes of slowing the spread of the disease.
With the right pieces in place, the treatment could be set up at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore within a matter of weeks, Casadevall says.
The technique uses antibodies from the blood plasma or serum of people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection to boost the immunity of newly infected patients and those at risk of contracting the disease. These antibodies contained in the blood's serum have the ability to bind to and neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Casadevall—a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine—published a paper on the proposal today in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Here's the study:
Gallagher feared a wider outbreak, so he extracted serum from the blood of the initial patient he believed contained antibodies and infused it into the bodies of 62 other boys.
Only three of them contracted the disease and all of the cases were mild. The prompt reaction earned Gallagher a place in public health history.
Meanwhile, his approach might help contain a coronavirus pandemic. Recovering patients could donate their blood, which would be tested by doctors for the antibodies that kill the coronavirus.
This serum could be then given to those who are at high risk of infection.