The use of convalescent plasma or serum
Over the summer, an international network of blood regulators developed a physician’s paper for regulators, and for anyone who might wish to become involved, outlining the reasons to consider antibodies derived from blood or convalescent plasma, or ultimately, hyperimmune globulins as a potential therapy in a filovirus outbreak. They provided an assessment of the previous experience both in animals and in humans using antibodies in other diseases, and importantly emphasize the role of regulatory agencies and the considerations that should be addressed in performing any evaluations of blood and blood-derived therapies.
Following this, a detailed guideline was produced by WHO which covers:
- How to identify patients recovered from Ebola Virus Disease as potential donors
- How they should provide informed consent
- Blood grouping and screening for other transfusion transmissible infections
- How to collect blood specimens and look after the donors
- Patient labeling, storage, the transportation of blood and plasma products
- The selection of patients for this intervention
- Other technical issues around the transfusion process
- Data collection; and
- How to assess the effectiveness of this therapy
There is consensus that the use of whole blood therapies and convalescent blood serums needs to be evaluated as a matter of priority. A group of investigators is traveling to affected countries to meet with local stakeholders and to assess the outline of studies that are expected to begin within weeks.
Note: Since the ASTMH conference, MSF has announced that some of their sites would be participating as clinical trial sites of convalescent blood products. And as of December 15, 2014, trials of convalescent serum have also been initiated in Monrovia.
Global Health Strategies generously supported Theo Smart’s attendance at the 63rd Annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Conference in New Orleans.