Plasma Technologies, LLC has signed a defense contract worth $750,000 to develop scaled-up Covid-19 convalescent plasma technologies, according to an announcement on the Department of Defense website Monday.
The contract with the DoD’s Joint Acquisition Task Force is to develop a new convalescent blood plasma process that makes more serum-derived products, and faster.
Convalescent plasma – antibody-filled blood plasma from patients who recovered from the disease – is a medical treatment that has been around since the Victorian era. Studies show the treatment has worked to fight severe flu, MERS, and SARS, and now doctors are testing to see if it works in Covid-19 patients.
So far, more than 66,000 Covid-19 patients have been treated with this approach through the US Food and Drug Administration’s expanded access program, according to the UScovidplamsa.org, a program run by Mayo Clinic. But, like blood, convalescent plasma is in limited supply and must come from donors.
Plasma Technologies, a South Carolina-based company, developed a novel plasma separation process that can produce larger quantities of the immunoglobulin and other plasma proteins. The contract will help the company try this technique on a larger scale and establish proof of concept, according to the Defense Department.
“Combating novel viruses requires novel solutions,” Douglas Bryce, joint program executive officer for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense, was quoted as saying on the Department of Defense website. “We are eager to determine if convalescent plasma and this innovative separation process will be valuable tools that can be used to enhance the nation’s COVID-19 response, through this cooperative agreement.”
There are at least 12 convalescent plasma treatments under investigation according to BIO, the association that represents major biotech companies.