NEW DELHI :
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has sought participation of researchers for conducting clinical trial of convalescent plasma therapy to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients and floated a protocol for it.
“Convalescent Plasma is an experimental procedure for COVID-19 patients. Hospitals and Institutions planning to provide this modality of treatment should do so in a clinical trial with protocols which are cleared by the Institutional Ethics Committee,” ICMR said in a release issued on Sunday.
The primary objective of the treatment will be to assess the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma in treating COVID-19 patients.
In this experimental treatment, plasma of a treated covid-19 patient is indicated to an existing patient. Theoretically, plasma from a cured patient is assumed to have antibodies against the virus and this can then be used to cure another patient.
The clinical trial is supposed to be two arm, open-label, randomized controlled trial, meaning that patients will either be given convalescent plasma or any conventional therapy on a randomised-basis and each of the patients will know which treatment they are being.
A recent study published by Chinese researchers has found the therapy to be a “promising rescue option” for severe Covid-19 patients.
The research found that plasma infused in 10 adult patients with severe symptoms in Wuhan, China was well-tolerated and could significantly increase or maintain neutralizing antibodies at a high level and patients showed improvement in their symptoms.
However, as per the study, some patients were also receiving other antiviral treatment and the possibility that these antiviral agents could contribute to the recovery of the patients or add to the therapeutic effect of the plasma could not be ruled out and called for more investigation.
A study published in The Lancet Magazine earlier this month citing another Chinese study said that a possible explanation for efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy is that the antibodies from convalescent plasma might suppress viraemia, or the presence of the novel coronavirus in the blood.
Convalescent plasma exchange has been used as a form of treatment for other viral diseases like Ebola and severe acute respiratory disease (SARS) as well.
Apart from plasma therapy trials, other forms of treatment that are being researched are the use of existing medications.
The World Health Organization is conducting a large scale “Solidarity trial” along with its member to assess the safety and efficacy of four existing treatments—Gilead Sciences’ failed Ebola drug remdesivir; the anti-HIV drug combination lopinavir and ritonavir, use of lopinavir and ritonavir along with interferon beta-1a, and the anti-malarial drug chloroquine or its derivative hydroxychloroquine.
Interferons are a signalling protein made and released by host cells in response to the presence of several viruses.