Recovered COVID-19 patients sought to donate plasma to help advance antibody tests, treatment

Stony Brook Medicine and Northwell Health are both seeking people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to help treat hospitalized patients and toward investigating antibody tests.

Northwell Health announced it had joined the convalescent plasma network formed by Mayo Clinic to investigate antibody tests and therapy. Recovered patients wishing to participate will be directed to a New York Blood Center site for donation and a patients at Northwell Health hospitals will begin receiving treatments in a few short weeks. Patients who enroll will also be urged to enroll in future COVID-19 research to take place at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the research arm of Northwell.

Recovered COVID-19 patients have antibodies to the virus within their blood. A one-hour process separates the plasma — where the anitbody resides — and the blood.

Plasma is then frozen and distributed to hospitals to match with patients.

In theory, the infused antibodies will help the patient fight off the virus and minimize its severity. Researchers will also study the plasma’s genetics and molecular makeup for future research.

The research could open doors to develop vaccaines.

To be considered to participate, a person must have tested positive for COVID-19 as documented by a laboratory test and currently be symptom free. If interested in donating, patients can register their names at the Feinstein Institutes’ Convalescent Coronavirus Patient Registry.

“As history has shown, medical science has the ability to develop powerful therapies that control and eradicate deadly viruses. Convalescent plasma for COVID-19 may be one such therapeutic approach,” said Kevin Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes.

A Stony Brook Medicine research study is also underway.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began allowing health care providers to request the use of convalescent plasma in patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections on March 27. Less than a week later, on April 2, Stony Brook University Hospital received FDA approval to offer the treatment to its patients through a randomized, controlled study (the gold standard in research) and is expected to enroll up to 500 patients from the Long Island area,” a press release said.

The study is led by Elliott Bennett-Guerreo, M.D. To maximize the opportunity of benefit, 80% of patients enrolled in the trial will receive the convalescent plasma. Normally, clinical trials have a 50/50 split, as 50% would be a controlled group.

“We are fast-tracking this large-scale clinical trial, as every second counts when seeking lifesaving treatment for these critically ill patients,” said Dr. Bennett-Guerrero. “The study will assess the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma versus standard plasma in hospitalized adult patients with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.”

Stony Brook Medicine is collaborating with Chembio Diagnostic Systems to work on antibody tests.

Anyone who has recovered and wish to help through Stony Brook Medicine can click here for more information.