To date, 10 plasma companies globally have joined the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, founded to accelerate development of a plasma-derived hyperimmune globulin therapy against COVID-19. The founding companies include Biotest, BPL, CSL Behring, LFB, Octapharma and Takeda, but has since added ADMA Biologics, BioPharma Plasma, GC Pharma and Sanquin.
The Alliance is also collaborating with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the hyperimmune therapy in adults with COVID-19. The trial is expected to launch this summer.
Plasma is the pale yellow liquid part of blood, which is easily replaced by the body. Mostly water, it contains proteins and antibodies.
“Hyperimmune globulin therapy has the potential to be one of the earliest treatment options for COVID-19, and we look forward to working with NIAID and health authorities to bring this therapy to patients as early as possible,” said Bill Mezzanotte, executive vice president, head of R&D, CSL Behring and co-leader of the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance. “One of the stated goals of the alliance is to be an effective partner for important institutions such as NIAID and also to help develop coherent regulatory strategies that can give global health authorities the confidence to streamline the approval process of hyperimmune globulin therapy for COVID-19.”
The first step of the Alliance is to collect plasma at licensed plasma collection centers across the U.S. The plasma is from healthy people who have recovered from COVID-19, called convalescent plasma. This plasma has antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can be used to create an experimental treatment. “Ig” in CoVIg-19 stands for immune globulin. The immune globulin can be used to concentrate the antibodies against the virus into an investigational therapy.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 and have been confirmed by the physicians as being no longer contagious, are encouraged to contact their nearest plasma donation center. The Alliance notes that providing your information does not obligate you to donate and does not guarantee you will be able to participate. Donation requires valid identification and medical screening.
Microsoft and Uber Health are also assisting the alliance. Microsoft is offering technology support, both the Alliance website and the Plasmabot for donor recruitment. This “bot” streamlines the donor process, helping potential donors identify the closest collection center from the member network.
Uber Health is donating 25,000 round-trip rides to transport eligible donors to and from plasma collection centers.
“Partnership and collaboration are critical to the success of the CoVIg-19 program,” said Julie Kim, president of Plasma-Derived Therapies Business Unit, Takeda, and co-leader of the Alliance. “We now have enough plasma to initiate clinical manufacturing, but more is needed to ensure both speed and scale. The growing and active involvement of leading companies from outside the plasma industry, who support this Alliance as well as convalescent plasma for transfusion initiatives—demonstrates the potential of convalescent plasma to fight this public health crisis. Together, we all share the same goal—to save lives by using the power of convalescent plasma in different ways.”