ICMRS gives nod to Kerala to explore plasma therapy to treat Covid-19 patients

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The therapy involves treating the sick with the blood from recovered coronavirus patients.

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has given the nod  for a research protocol called convalescent plasma therapy proposed by the Kerala government for treating patients infected with coronavirus, said a Times of India report from Kochi.

The therapy involves treating the sick with the blood from recovered coronavirus patients. The TOI report said that Korea had used the therapy to successfully treat two elderly patients. Therapeutic products derived from convalescent plasma of recovered patients were administered to treat other patients in China as well.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved use of such therapy in clinical trials and for critical patients. Convalescent plasma was used in outbreaks of the 2009 swine flu pandemic and SARS and MERS epidemics.

R R Gangakhedkar, chief epidemiologist at ICMR, said they have given permission to a task force of doctors and scientists set up by the Kerala government for research protocol which allows for clinical trials. The clinical trial itself would need permission from the Drug Controller General of India, Ethics Committee and Clinical Trials Registry-India, he said.

Dr Anoop Kumar, a member of the task force and critical care physician at Baby Memorial Hospital, Kozhikode, told TOI that Kerala would be the first state in India to start the experimental therapy.

Dr Asha Kishore, director of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), said that since convalescent plasma was an experimental therapy at this stage, it would be undertaken as a research project to assess its effectiveness.

The institute’s transfusion medicine department headed by Debashish Gupta will lead the project in the state.

Initial research suggests it is effective for Covid-19.. On Monday, a new study published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of National Academies of Sciences), said that a single dose of convalescent plasma from recovered patients significantly increased neutralising antibodies and led to viral clearance in 10 patients severely ill with the new coronavirus (with inputs from Times of India).

Image Credit: Times Now

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