Physicians research convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19

by From UT Health East Texas

Physicians with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler and UT Health East Texas are researching a potential treatment to help severely afflicted COVID-19 patients recover. Leading this research effort is Julie Philley, MD, pulmonologist and associate professor of medicine, and Megan Devine, MD, pulmonologist and assistant professor of medicine. With this research, the duo hopes to provide a recovery pathway for patients across the globe.

Following the Mayo Clinic protocol, the doctors are exploring the use of convalescent plasma, or plasma received from those who have recovered from COVID-19, utilizing the COVID-19 antibodies in their blood. In a process approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Drs. Philley and Devine are treating patients admitted to the hospital with severe ailments caused by COVID-19. These patients, who meet clinical criteria, become candidates to receive the convalescent plasma. The doctors then will study the patient’s response to the plasma in hopes of understanding how to best treat the serious infection and illness related to COVID-19.

Drs. Philley and Devine anticipate that convalescent plasma can be given to those with severe COVID-19 illness to boost their ability to fight the virus. Moreover, they hope this treatment will help keep those who are moderately sick from developing more severe conditions. This treatment could prove advantageous for those at a heightened risk of serious COVID-19 illness.

Individuals with a history of COVID-19 can donate plasma but must first meet FDA requirements for this research and must be tested for safety. Once safe usage is confirmed, the blood then goes through a process to separate out blood cells, leaving the plasma with antibodies. Patients who have successfully recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to contact Carter BloodCare for donation options.

Under the leadership of Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun, president, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler provides graduate students, medical residents and other medical professionals-in-training with the unique opportunity to learn alongside scientists, physicians and other healthcare experts. UT Health Science Center at Tyler offers graduate degrees in biotechnology, public health and health administration, training tomorrow’s leaders in these fields of advanced study, providing them with marketable skills and the qualifications to excel in today’s workforce. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler is a proud component of UT Health East Texas, which comprises UT Health Science Center and a 10-hospital health system throughout East Texas.

UT Health East Texas provides care to thousands of patients each year through an extensive regional network that includes 10 hospitals, more than 50 clinics, the Olympic Plaza Tower, 13 regional rehabilitation facilities, two freestanding emergency centers, regional home health services covering 41 counties, an EMS fleet of more than 50 ambulances and four helicopters and a comprehensive seven-trauma center care network, including the region’s only Level 1 trauma facility.

As a partner with The University of Texas System, UT Health East Texas is uniquely positioned to provide patients with access to leading-edge research and clinical therapies while training and educating the next generation of physicians and other health professionals. The nationally recognized UT System also includes UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, as well as three other major university medical centers located throughout the state.