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Volunteers Needed to Donate Blood Plasma to Help Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19

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Stony Brook Researchers are looking for those recovered from COVID-19 who can give convalescent serum for a potentially life-saving treatment.

STONY BROOK, NY, April 9, 2020 — A Stony Brook Medicine research study is underway to determine if blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can help treat hospitalized patients with active COVID-19 infection. Stony Brook is seeking coronavirus survivors to donate blood plasma and researchers are collecting the convalescent serum to use in an experimental treatment strategy in those battling the disease.

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Led by Elliott Bennett-Guerrero, MD, Medical Director, Perioperative Quality and Patient Safety and Professor and Vice Chair, Clinical Research and Innovation, Department of Anesthesiology at Stony Brook Medicine, the clinical trial is expected to enroll up to 500 patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Plasma, the liquid portion of the blood, which helps with clotting and supporting immunity, contains antibodies that can potentially be used to kill the virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began allowing healthcare 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. 

The study is led by Elliott Bennett-Guerrero, MD, Medical Director of Perioperative Quality and Patient Safety and Professor and Vice Chair of Clinical Research and Innovation in the Renaissance School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology. To maximize the opportunity of benefit, 80 percent of patients enrolled in the trial will receive the convalescent plasma. Normally, clinical trials have a 50/50 split; 50% with treatment and 50% in the control 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.”

Convalescent serum therapy is a century-old treatment that has been used in patients during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the diphtheria epidemic in the U.S. in the 1920s, and more recently, the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

“Transferring this antibody-rich plasma into someone who is still fighting the disease may give that person the immune power to recover from the disease. This is especially important in the first several weeks of infection before one can develop high enough antibody levels to fight the virus.” 

“Everyone at Stony Brook is laser focused on identifying every pathway possible to help change the course of this devastating virus,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences and Dean, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “Having a network of physician-scientists in place allows us to contribute on both a local and global scale to accelerate the fight against COVID-19 and save lives.”

Stony Brook Medicine is collaborating with Chembio Diagnostic Systems, a public company based on Long Island. Javan Esfandiari, Executive Vice President and Chief Science & Technology Officer who says Chembio is pleased that its unique and proprietary Dual Path Platform, referred to as DPP®, to separately and simultaneously detect and measure IgM and IgG antibodies, specifically to COVID-19, was the assay of choice for Stony Brook. 

“Our unique patented technology uses one of our two analyzers (the MR1 and MR2) produced by Chembio, to read the test results for both IgM and IgG from finger stick blood in 15 minutes and give a numerical result related to the amount of antibody in the sample,” said Esfandiari. “This takes away the individual subjectivity of results and increases the sensitivity and specificity of the test. Chembio has now received authorization to market and sell the DPP COVID-19 IgM and IgG assay system in the US through the FDA notification process.”

A Journal of the American Medical Association study of the treatment shows promise from a team of Chinese scientists describing the use of convalescent plasma in five patients with COVID-19. Now, Stony Brook physician-researchers and researchers across the globe are looking to answer the question of whether this therapy can successfully help flatten the curve and save lives sooner than expected.

Note to readers: If you have recovered from COVID-19 and want to help others battling the disease by donating your blood plasma, please visit: https://www.stonybrookmedicine.edu/COVID_donateplasma. After filling out the online survey, potentially eligible people will be asked to participate in a screening visit at a Stony Brook Medicine facility. The screening visit will take approximately 30 minutes. You do not need to be a Stony Brook University Hospital patient to participate, but you must meet required criteria for plasma donation and have high levels of antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19.

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11 comments

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  • I think I have have had the virus right before it starting spreading on Long Island. It Started with extreme exhaustion and a very sore throat. My cough continually got worse and was kind of high in my chest. A dry cough and it took weeks to get rid of. I only had some chills for about three days. I would be happy to donate / test my blood. I’m A-

  • Hello Fellow Chamberians – (Is that a word??!!)

    First, I must commend the organizers/volunteers of the drive-thru Covid-19 testing facility @ SUSB. Incredibly fast, convenient, and the precautions taken were more than one would ever expect. These people were GRAND, GIVING and GRACIOUS!! I was blown away by the entire, expeditious experience. (Not to mention the ‘field ER’ that was set up right along side of it in the same parking lot.) Ok, plasma. Hospitals need it like they’ve never needed it before. I urge u to donate!! (You watch tv, get to relax for bit, and, my favorite part is the Oreo’s and Fig Newtons you get after you’ve finished! And the coldest, best apple juice ever.) Make your appointment asap and do it. Just do it!!!

  • Is it possible for people who suspect they were infected to get tested for antibodies to verify that they have so they can participate?

    My son is a sophomore pre-med student at Stony Brook and volunteers as an EMT for the Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corp. He was sick when I picked him up when the campus was shut down and he was exposed to several Covid-19 patients. Also, he would like to come back to campus this summer to continue volunteering at SBVAC so it would be good to know if he was infected.

    I came down with whatever it is that he had after I brought him home so, if he was infected, so was I and I could also participate.

  • I was tested positive for covid-19 on April 3, 2020. I am now recovered and would like to help in the best way possible.

  • Had Covid 19, only lost taste and smell. Over a month out and have some of it back. Stony brook not interested at this time for me to be tested or donate, very disappointed. Supposedly only looking for 500 participants. Looks as though they are using for testing or helping critically ill patients now.

  • Filled out the form but because my tests came back negative while having most symptoms it was hard to clarify on the selections but my antibody test has came back hi levels of antibodies. Hope i can help.

  • In early to mid February I had a severe cough (NO other symptoms) it lasted about 2 weeks – I did not miss work, coworkers and clients thought it might be bronchitis – about a week into my cough a co-worker ALSO developed the same symptoms (she missed a day of work) – Now, that coworker’s husband tested POSITIVE for COVID-19 so she and the children (adults) were tested – and she tested negative for COVID-19 but positive for the COVID-19 antibodies – so I am wondering if I might also have the antibodies – in which case I would be interested in being a serum donor…

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