Scientists are closing in on how donated convalescent plasma might help patients with COVID-19 after earlier disappointing results, it has been announced.
Convalescent plasma was evaluated as a treatment from early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is blood plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 and contains antibodies that researchers believe could help clear the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, the treatment is still considered experimental by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
To better understand the potential benefits of convalescent plasma, researchers led by Dr Andrea Troxel from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine pooled the evidence from eight previous clinical trials, covering 2,341 patients.
Overall, no link was seen between convalescent plasma with clinical outcomes. However, the results suggested that this treatment was “associated with benefit in some subgroups”.
These subgroups included those with a World Health Organisation severity score of four (out of ten), those with blood type A, and those with pre-existing diabetes, cardiovascular, or pulmonary disease.
For these groups, the benefits of plasma treatment were similar across age groups and did not appear to vary with the duration of symptoms before treatment began.
Findings were published in JAMA Network Open.
Dr Andrea Troxel said: “Our results show that, overall, patients hospitalised with COVID-19 may derive modest benefit from convalescent plasma, with some patient subgroups benefiting more than others.
“Patients with co-existing disease were most likely to show improvement from convalescent plasma, probably because they have the most difficulty producing antibodies to fight their infection.
“The infused plasma boosts their body’s ability to fight the virus, but only in the early stage of the disease and before the illness overwhelms their body.”
Troxel AB, Petkova E, Goldfeld K, Liu M, Tarpey T, Wu Y, Wu D, Agarwal A, Avendaño-Solá C, Bainbridge E, Bar KJ, Devos T, Duarte RF, Gharbharan A, Hsue PY, Kumar G, Luetkemeyer AF, Meyfroidt G, Nicola AM, Mukherjee A, Ortigoza MB, Pirofski LA, Rijnders BJA, Rokx C, Sancho-Lopez A, Shaw P, Tebas P, Yoon HA, Grudzen C, Hochman J, Antman EM. (2022) “Association of Convalescent Plasma Treatment With Clinical Status in Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19: A Meta-analysis.” JAMA Network Open, doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.47331
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