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Israeli Company Fast-Tracks Blood Plasma Treatment That Could Save ‘Severely Ill’ Coronavirus Patients

03-18-2020

JERUSALEM, Israel – An Israeli biopharmaceutical company says it is working on a coronavirus treatment that uses purified blood plasma to help severely ill patients.

Kamada, an Israeli company based in Rehovot, hopes their product can combat the spread of COVID-19.

"We started working on this soon after the coronavirus outbreak started in Israel…It was almost obvious for us that this a path that we should explore," Kamada CEO Amir London told CBN News.

The treatment works by extracting the antibodies produced in the blood plasma of people who have recovered from the coronavirus and transplanting them into the body of a severely ill COVID-19 patient. The antibodies from the donor then attack the virus in the body of the receiving patient.

"When a person is being exposed to a virus [their] immune system develops antibodies and after the patient recovers and is not viral anymore, the antibodies stay in the blood in the plasma for an extended period of time," said London.

"Companies like us have the technology to purify the specific antibodies from that plasma in order to give it to patients and boost their immune system," he explained.

This treatment is different from a vaccine because a vaccine introduces the actual virus into the patient's body and their immune system responds by releasing antibodies to fight it. That way, when the patient encounters the virus from an external source, they already have the antibodies to kill the infection.

"We are not triggering the immune system. We are giving the actual antibodies to actually boost the system," London said.

Kamada has been developing treatments like this one for the last 30 years and already produced an FDA-approved product for rabies. The company also has a contract with Israel's Ministry of Health to create a medicine for victims of venomous snake bites in Israel.

“The concept of our proposed treatment is not new," said London, adding that Kamada hopes to give its coronavirus product to physicians to use specifically for "severely ill patients" soon.

The company is already working with regulatory authorities to fast track the development of their COVID-19 treatment.

Kamada cannot guarantee it will be successful in developing the coronavirus treatment mostly because "the availability of plasma and the level of antibodies in the plasma [of already fully recovered coronavirus patients] is yet to be determined."

However, London is confident in Kamada's method because it is using "an existing, established, approved technology."

“The current global crisis resulting from the coronavirus outbreak calls for urgent highly-focused efforts to accelerate the development and manufacturing of potential treatments, especially for life threatening situations,” London said in a statement.

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