Plasma Therapy: Do we finally have treatment for Coronavirus? - LIVE HEALTHY

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May 8, 2020

Plasma Therapy: Do we finally have treatment for Coronavirus?

The pandemic is growing worldwide. There are various deaths that are rising at such a rapid rate. The scientists from all over the world are exploring numerous angles including newer drugs and compounds. In recent times, one potential treatment has gained the attention of scientists from all over the world. This treatment is known as Plasma Therapy.


Treatment of COVID-19 cases


Plasma Therapy: Do we finally have treatment for Coronavirus?

Coronavirus epidemic was first surfaced in China. They had used this therapy to take care of crucial COVID-19 patients. Two trials of plasma treatment have been conducted on 15 patients who were infected by coronavirus and improvement was shown by them.

As a treatment alternative beyond clinical trials, the ICMR doesn't suggest this. After critically affected by COVID-19, several countries around the world including the United States and the United Kingdom have begun plasma treatment trials.

What is Plasma Therapy?

Plasma Therapy: Do we finally have treatment for Coronavirus?


Plasma therapy or PRP (Platelets rich plasma) therapy is a non-surgical treatment for tendon ligament and muscle injuries. Platelets are cells of the blood. They are best known for their function in blood clotting. 

Activated platelets also release many growth factors and other cellular signalling proteins that are necessary for the process of wound healing. PRP is a plasma that has much more platelets than normal blood plasma.

PRP, therefore, contains increased concentrations of these factors commonly by five to tenfold. It also speeds up the process of healing. In this procedure, a certain amount of blood is drawn from the patient. 

The various components of blood are separated and concentrated. This process is called centrifugation. The fraction of blood that contains the platelets is collected and injected into the site of injury.

Since PRP is extracted from the patient's own blood, the risks related to PRP injections are minimal. PRP therapy is the most effective and treating chronic tendon injuries, notably tennis elbow. 

However, its effectiveness in treating acute injuries and other conditions remains to be proven. PRP therapy becomes popular as it is a low-risk treatment and has the potential to enhance healing.

How does it work?

When a pathogen like novel coronavirus infects our immune system, produces antibodies. The antibodies extended to identify and mark the invading virus. White blood cells attach the identified intruders and the body gets rich of the infections.

The therapy like blood transfusion harvest the antibodies from a recovered patient and inject into a sick person. Helped by antibodies, the immune system mounts robust combat on the virus.

What are the antibodies?

Antibodies are one of the frontline immune response to an infection of a microbe. They are a particular type of protein secreted by immune cells called B Lymphocytes. 

Therefore, when they encounter an invader such as novel coronavirus, the immune system design antibodies. These antibodies are highly specific to each invading pathogen. A specific antibody and its partner virus are made for each other.

How Plasma Therapy is given?

Blood is drawn from the person who has recovered from the COVID-19 infection. The serum is separated and screened for the virus-neutralizing antibodies. The serum that is the blood serum obtained from the one who has recovered from the infectious disease. 

Those patients are especially rich in antibodies for that pathogen is then administered to a COVID-19 patient. The sick acquire passive immunisation. 

The person who is a potential donor is examined before the blood serum is extracted and given to a sick person. First, the recommended test must be negative and the potential donor has to be declared as cured. 

Then the recovered person has to stay up for the period of two weeks or the potential donor should be asymptomatic for a minimum of 28 days.

Challenges for Plasma Therapy

This therapy is not simple to harness. Primarily, it is difficult to get a significant amount of plasma from survivors. In diseases like COVID-19 where most of the victims are of higher age or suffering from other medical conditions such as high/low blood pressure, diabetes and so on. So, all patients cannot volunteer to donate blood.

History of Plasma Therapy

Found by German physiologist Emil von Behring, plasma treatment was first utilized in 1890. In 1918, the plasma treatment was also used during the Spanish influenza pandemic. 

To treat H1N1 disease, physicians used plasma treatment in 2009. In 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had approved the plasma treatment to deal with the Ebola virus.

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