The McGill University Health Centre Foundation (MUHC) and the Jewish General Hospital Foundation (JGH) are proud to announce a joint gift from Power Corporation of Canada in support of a Canada-wide study exploring the efficacy of treating COVID-19 patients with the blood plasma of those who’ve recovered.

The study is led by Dr. Philippe Bégin, a clinician-researcher at Sainte-Justine, and is being spearheaded at the MUHC and the JGH by McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) researchers and infectious disease specialists Dr. Marina Klein and Dr. Makeda Semret (MUHC) and Dr. Christina Greenaway (JGH). Drs. Klein and Greenaway are co-directors of the new MI4 Clinical Research Platform (MI4-CRP) with a mandate to rapidly develop infrastructure to conduct clinical studies at both the JGH and the MUHC.

In this plasma study, researchers across institutions are testing to see whether this technique can not only be used as a treatment for COVID, but also as a way to expedite the recovery process, greatly improving patient outcomes. Before vaccines existed, physicians used this technique to treat patients of pandemics like the Spanish flu. It works by transferring antibodies from recovered patients—special proteins created by the body to fight off diseases—to sick patients. The antibodies can then trigger the immune response needed to beat the virus. Plasma is collected from patients who have fully recovered from the virus, and who are in good health. Hospitalized COVID patients who meet the criteria are given a plasma transfusion to curtail the progression of the illness.

Fifty institutions across Canada are participating in this study, and Héma-Québec will partner with 15 institutions to collect the plasma from so-called “super donors” across the province, making it the most extensive and randomized controlled study of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 worldwide.

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