Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an Institution of National Importance under the Department of Science and Technology, has obtained the go-ahead for taking a bold step to provide innovative treatment to patients suffering from COVID-19 disease.
Technically called "convalescent-plasma therapy", the treatment aims at using the immune power gained by a recovered person to treat a sick person.
According to a statement by Ministry of Science & Technology, the Indian council for medical research (ICMR), the top authorising body in India, has given approval to the SCTIMST for carrying out the novel treatment.
"We have applied for age cutoff to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for permissions for relaxation of the norms for blood donation," said Asha Kishore Director, SCTIMST.
The therapy, like blood transfusion, harvests the antibody from a recovered patient and ingest into a sick person. Helped by the antibody, the immune system mounts robust combat on the virus.
"Initially, we will try in a small number of patients. At present it is permitted as an experimental therapy for restricted use for severely affected patients only. We will be getting the informed consent before they are recruited. This will be conducted as a clinical trial," said Kishore.
"COVID clinics of five medical college hospitals will be partnering," he said.
In this procedure, blood is drawn from a person who has recovered from COVID-19 sickness. The serum is separated and screened for virus-neutralizing antibodies. Convalescent serum, that is the blood serum obtained from one who has recovered from an infectious disease and especially rich in antibodies for that pathogen, is then administered to a COVID-19 patient. The sick acquires passive immunization.
This therapy is not simple to harness, primarily due to the difficulty of obtaining significant amounts of plasma from survivors. In diseases like COVID-19, where most of the victims are aged, suffering from other medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and so on, not all recovered patients can volunteer to donate blood.