A new clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness and safety of plasma therapy, a form of passive immunisation treatment for Covid-19 patients, is being carried out by Agha Khan University Hospital (AKUH) according to a statement issued on Tuesday.
"Plasma therapy can potentially help treat patients with moderate to severe Covid-19 infections," said AKUH Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department's Dr Natasha Ali, who is part of a team of six from the faculty working on the trial. "This trial is part of the university's [AKUH's] science-based approach to evaluating novel treatments that can help save lives during this pandemic," she added.
A spokesperson for AKUH stressed that the university is participating in solidarity with the international clinical trials launched by the World Health Organisation and its partners. The study being carried out at the varsity has been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan as well as the National Bioethics Committee of Pakistan
According to experts, there is currently no vaccine for coronavirus, nor is there an approved form of treatment beyond managing symptoms. AKUH aims to carry out the trials to generate evidence on whether plasma therapy, the only experimental treatment currently available for the virus, can help treat Covid-19 patients.
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Plasma therapy itself involves the separating blood donated by recovered Covid-19 patients into plasma; a liquid that contains antibodies and proteins that help fight infections. The plasma is then injected into a severely ill Covid-19 patient.
Researchers at the university will perform three pre-procedural investigations on each donor to ensure their blood is safe from other infections and to check their suitability to have their plasma collected. Once plasma is transfused into a patient, the response of the patient will be monitored. Informed consent will be sought from all potential donors as well as those receiving the treatment.