In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of physicians and scientists from 34 institutions and 17 states have self-organized into a group known as National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. Investigating the use of convalescent plasma, as what was a group of biomedical researchers that assembled several years ago to refocus studies of health and disease more directly on public health issues. More than 100 researchers and 40 large hospitals in 20 states are involved in the effort to utilize survivor plasma to clinical trials.
A number of universities, such as University of Wisconsin-Madison, have recently joined the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. The group includes big name brand collaborative partners such as Amazon, American Red Cross, and Federal Express.
How did it Start?
Johns Hopkins University professor Arturo Casadevall and Liise-anne Pirofski with Albert Einstein College of Medicine published a paper on March 13, 2020 titled “The convalescent sera option for containing COVID-19” in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The subject matter immediately generated a response from a group of colleagues connected through various social and professional networks. They instantly recognized the promise and importance of examining whether this mode of treatment might work in COVID-19 and started other discussions with colleagues in virology, transfusion medicine, epidemiology, clinical trials and several other disciplines to progress the ideas forward—the excitement was palpable.
A Grassroots Effort
Hence, a form of grass roots investigational network was forming in response to a dangerous pandemic. Now a national organization, this network is working to deploy the use of plasma in this emergency. A real mission, meaning and purpose emerged as the potential to save lives occurs now—unlike vaccines or newly developed drug, which can take years, the plasma could in principal be made available imminently.
The First Big Meeting
A major conference call occurred on March 21, organized by Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic with over 100 participants. Their website, a joint production of Amazon Web Services and Michigan State University Information Technology, went live on March 24th, the group reports from their website.
‘Everybody is on the Same Page’
The network now shifts into project gear where they will fast-track clinical trials at multiple research center participants in a process anticipated to take several weeks. Michael J Joyner from Mayo Clinic reports that everyone in the network will “take this nationwide sooner rather than later.” Dr. Joyner exclaimed “Everybody is on the same page.”
Interested in connecting with this exciting, pragmatic and hands-on national network of investigators seeking to push back COVID-19? See the leadership.
The Leadership Group
· Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD (Chair), Johns Hopkins University
· Benjamin Chen, MD,Mount Sinai School of Medicine
· Michael J Joyner, MD, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
· Jeffrey P Henderson, MD, PhD, Washington University School of Medicine
· Nigel Paneth, MD, MPH, Michigan State University
· Liise-anne Pirofski, MD, PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
· Shmuel Shoham, MD, Johns Hopkins University