The power of the human body to repair itself is one of the most wonderful features. The human body has 30-40 trillion cells, and every second that we are alive, these cells function untiringly to bring equilibrium, to keep us at a healthy state, or to bring us back to a natural state. When we are sick, cells, often in substantial numbers, may be damaged or killed. However, these cells replace themselves, all to ensure that the body functions optimally.
Plasma therapy, as such, is a regenerative medicine that harnesses the healing capabilities and improves the body’s natural growth factors for healing tissue.
Plasma is the whole blood liquid component. It consists mainly of water and proteins and provides a medium for circulation around the body for red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Platelets are blood cells that trigger blood clots and other growth-healing functions. They are also called thrombocytes.
In the case of Coronavirus, the aim of plasma therapy is to treat those infected by the virus with blood antibodies of a recovered Covid-19 patient. The therapy can also be used to vaccinate people with a high risk of infectious disease — health care providers, patient families, and other harmful contacts.
This is a basic therapy principle based on the premise of antibodies with a particular capacity of battling the novel Coronavirus in a patient’s blood, which has recovered after Covid-19. The hypothesis of the therapy is that once taken in someone under treatment, the recovered patient’s antibodies continue to target and counter the novel Coronavirus in the second patient.
How Therapy works?
- The therapy utilizes antibodies produced in an untreated person when he/she is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus
- These antibodies are developed in a patient as part of the body’s natural immune response
- When the patient is recovered, they donate their blood to treat other patients with their antibodies. The blood donated is then tested for any other pathogens, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, etc.
- The blood is then taken into the process of collecting ‘plasma,’ a liquid portion of the blood that includes antibodies
- When collected, the antibody-rich plasma is then ingested into the bloodstream of the patient receiving treatment
The Risks Involved with the Therapy
Besides advantages, there are some risks associated with the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy.
- Blood substances transfer: There are chances of an inadvertent infection being passed to the recipient, when blood transfusion takes place
- Infection enhancement: Some patients may fail in the therapy, and an improved form of the disease can be the result
- Effect on the Immune system: The therapy’s administration of antibodies may end up suppressing the body’s normal immune response, making a patient susceptible to further re-infection with Covid-19
In limited research in China, the promise of plasma therapy as a Covid-19 treatment was already explored as the outbreak first occurred. Ten critically ill patients with Covid-19 were subject to plasma therapy in one study. In this trial, the health of the patients changed considerably.
The experiments have channeled a glimmer of hope. Researchers, however, note that plasma therapy is too early to be used as a successful treatment. For example, the sample measurements are too low to draw definitive conclusions for a Covid-19 plasma therapy study. While many healthcare bodies consider it only an experimental measure, the debate for the same continues.