This molecular structure in the image section shows a so-called gamma globulin, i.e. an antibody of class G. The human immune system acts against viruses with such proteins: the antibodies are specifically shaped and attach to the surface of the pathogen to prevent them from attacking new cells.
Picture: Science Photo Library
Those who have survived Covid-19 have protective antibodies in their blood. Other patients could benefit from this. However, it is still unclear whether plasma therapy will actually help them, and if so, at what point in time.
AWhen the number of Covid 19 cases soared in New York in mid-March, it was a threatening signal. In the metropolis, doctors saw a devastating epidemic and researchers found that the new corona virus was spreading rapidly around the world. Arturo Casadevall from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore interpreted the increasing number of cases in a completely different way. For the head of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, it was a growing army of recovered people who could help defeat the plague.
Already in January, Casadevall had advocated using an age-old form of therapy against the severe viral infection: blood transfusions from people who had survived the disease. Now the time seemed to come to put the concept into practice. On March 13, he and his colleague Liise-anne Pirofski from Albert Einstein College in New York published a report in the “Journal of Clinical Investigation”, which the immunologist now calls “perhaps the most important paper of my life”. Pirofski and Casadevall see the great advantage of plasma therapy that the infrastructure for transfusions that is available in hospitals and treatment centers can be used anyway. In short, this therapy can be used quickly and widely. The development of new drugs and vaccines, on the other hand, takes months or years. And the longer the pandemic continues, the more people there can help with their blood.