There's no shortage of research efforts looking for ways to stop, or at least slow down, the novel coronavirus. Of course, those strategies involving cutting edge techniques, including CRISPR gene editing, tend to get most of the attention. If it's new, it must better, after all.
But what if we could reach back 100 years for a solution? That's essentially what we've done with the recent decision by the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize the emergency use of an old technique — convalescent plasma — for patients severely ill with COVID-19. The idea is that plasma from people who have recovered can transfer protective antibodies to a still-sick recipient. Donors must have been symptom-free for 14 days with a negative test or for 28 days without one.
"We think it shows promise, and we're going to be starting that this week," said New York governor Andrew Cuomo just before the announcement.
Natural antibody cocktails
The rich history of convalescent plasma meanders through the plagues of the twentieth century. Hearing about it in the context of COVID awakened memories of receiving a similar treatment, in the 1960s.
To continue reading, go to Genetic Literacy Project, where this post first appeared.