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With countries and companies racing to find a cure for the novel coronavirus, a recently published study suggests the blood of recovered patients can aid in the treatment of severe cases.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at five patients in Shenzhen, China who were deemed "critically ill." The experts found that giving them an experimental plasma transfusion that contained a "neutralizing antibody" helped in their recovery.
"These preliminary findings raise the possibility that convalescent plasma transfusion may be helpful in the treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-19 and ARDS, but this approach requires evaluation in randomized clinical trials," researchers wrote.
Though extremely limited in scope, with further research required, the findings do represent potential.
All five of the patients — who were between the ages of 36 and 65, including two women — were on ventilators at the time of treatment and had previously received "antiviral agents and methylprednisolone."
After they received the plasma transfusion, four of the five patients had body temperatures return to normal "within three days," their Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score decreased and the ratio of arterial oxygen partial pressure to fractional inspired oxygen (also known as the PaO2/FiO2 ratio or Carrico index and the PF ratio) increased within 12 days.
Four of the five patients saw their acute respiratory issues resolve within 12 days after receiving the plasma transfusion and three of them were taken off ventilators within two weeks of treatment. Three patients were eventually discharged and the other two are in stable condition.
The study was published after New York State recently announced it would also attempt to fight the pandemic using the blood plasma of recovered patients.
During a March 23 press conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the blood therapy trial, which is aimed at coronavirus patients who are in the most serious condition, would start that week.
“What it does, it takes the plasma from a person who has been infected with the virus, processes the plasma and injects the antibodies into a person who is sick,” Cuomo explained during the press conference. “There have been trials that show when a person is injected with the antibodies, that then stimulates them for most of their immune system against the disease.”
“It’s only a trial, it’s a trial for people who are in serious condition, but the New York State Department of Health has been working on this with New York’s best health care agencies, and we think it shows promise and we’re going to be starting that this week,” he added.
Harnessing the blood plasma of recovered patients is known as “convalescent plasma,” and was used in the fight against the SARs outbreak, according to an article published last month in the medical journal The Lancet.
As of Sunday morning, more than 684,000 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, more than 124,000 of which are in the U.S.
Fox News' James Rogers contributed to this story.