NIH Delivers $4.3 Million to Support Convalescent Plasma Clinical Trial

Physician-scientists at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and NYU Langone Health lead landmark study.

(BRONX, NY)—As the search for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) therapies continues, convalescent plasma—distilled from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19—has emerged as a promising treatment option. Now, the National Institutes of Health has awarded Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore a $4.3 million grant to support a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2 clinical trial that launched in April to evaluate the efficacy of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19.

“Convalescent plasma has a long history of improving symptoms and decreasing mortality associated with pandemic diseases, dating back to meningitis at the beginning of the 20th century,” said trial principal investigator at Einstein and Montefiore, Liise-anne Pirofski, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Montefiore and Einstein, professor of medicine, and of microbiology and immunology at Einstein, and a member of the leadership group of the national COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. “Historically, studies of convalescent plasma for pandemic diseases have been small and the results anecdotal—we are hopeful that our randomized controlled trial will provide a definite answer on its efficacy for COVID-19.”

Convalescent therapy received FDA approval for investigational use in an open label protocol (when clinical trial information is not withheld from participants) for hospitalized patients in late March—but physician-scientists at Einstein and Montefiore have been pursuing the “gold standard” of a randomized clinical trial to determine if it can alleviate COVID-19 symptoms and reduce mortality rates.

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