In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) funded a clinical study with the following initial goals:
1) Help identify and screen potential convalescent plasma donors;
2) analyze the antibody properties present in convalescent plasma; and
3) determine whether these antibodies correlate with clinical outcome observed in COVID-19 patients treated with convalescent plasma. As alternative treatments became available over the past year and the use of convalescent plasma became restricted to specific patient populations, the need in COVID-19 convalescent plasma decreased significantly.
Our study focuses now on the analysis of antibody properties in individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, especially in those living in medically underserved areas that are disproportionately affected by the infection.
How we are going to do it
This study is led by City of Hope in Duarte, California, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Flagstaff, Arizona. It is supported by a network of medical sites across California, including CIRM-funded Alpha Stem Cell Clinics, and hospitals in medically underserved communities.
What we need to fulfill our mission
To meet our goal, we are looking for adult volunteers who recovered from COVID-19 and who are willing to donate up to three times a small sample of blood to support our research efforts. Blood donation can take place at home or at a collaborating site. Participants will be compensated $50 in the form of a gift card for each blood draw.
With your help, we will better understand the immune response to COVID-19 infection.
Who are we?
Our team is composed of immunology experts at City of Hope in Duarte, California, under the leadership of John A. Zaia, M.D., and at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Flagstaff, Arizona, under the leadership of John Altin, Ph.D.
In late 2016, City of Hope and TGen formed an alliance to accelerate research discoveries into cures for patients. City of Hope is a leader in the fields of hematologic malignancies, bone marrow transplantation and select solid tumors, while TGen brings best-in-class genomic and informatics expertise to efficiently advance basic science for therapeutics, biomarkers and diagnostics. Together, they will be responsible for the sophisticated analysis of antibody characteristics in convalescent plasma.
This project is also supported by local institutions including certain of the CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinics and regional medical centers.
Our clinical advisory panel includes Michael J. Joyner, M.D., from The Mayo Clinic and Evan Bloch, M.D. from Johns Hopkins.
Joyner is leading a national expanded access program (EAP) sponsored by the U.S. government to coordinate the collection and distribution of COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of individuals with severe or life-threatening disease.
Bloch, associate professor of immunology at Johns Hopkins, is facilitating an ongoing clinical trial using COVID-19 convalescent plasma.
What lab tests are we performing?
We will determine if COVID-19 convalescent volunteers have anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their blood at the time of their blood draw. This is the only information that will be shared with convalescent volunteers.
We will run additional research tests to determine what parts of the virus are targeted by SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and to assess in a Petri dish the ability of these antibodies to neutralize viral infection. If the blood donors agree, we will store leftover samples to perform additional studies in the future.
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