In order to tackle the serious health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kedrion ‘s R&D department set to work immediately to develop potential therapies in the shortest possible time. In this respect, our efforts are concentrated on the use of “convalescent plasma” donated by patients who have recovered from the disease. The plasma, rich in anti-virus antibodies, undergoes pathogen inactivation procedures before immunoglobulin is extracted to be further used on an industrial scale.
Kedrion Biopharma, an Italian company that produces plasma-derived medicines for a global market, has provided this plan of action in order to tackle the serious health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Dr. Alessandro Gringeri, Kedrion Biopharma Chief Medical and R&D Officer says: “There have been many diseases in the past which have benefited from this type of treatment. This has encouraged us to focus our resources and investments in obtaining in the short term a hyperimmune Immunoglobulin concentrate with a high content of specific SARS-COV-2 neutralizing antibodies, capable of counteracting the disease in patients with severe symptoms and, in the future, of blocking the development of symptoms both in patients who are already hospitalized with COVID-19 and in high-risk patients.”
“We at Kedrion have taken action immediately, conscious of the fact that plasma is a precious biological material, whose biochemical properties and therapeutic uses are largely unexplored; it has a huge potential, therefore, and we are convinced that in this instance it could be invaluable”, concludes Dr. Gringeri.
The same therapy has been used successfully to improve the survival rate in patients with equally serious acute respiratory syndromes caused by other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, and to reduce the time spent in hospital.
Results from the administration of hyperimmune convalescent plasma to critical COVID-19 patients in a number of centers in Lombardy, Italy are very positive. In these cases, Kedrion Biopharma provided and quickly installed devices capable of processing plasma from convalescent COVID-19 patients and performing viral inactivation, making it safe to administer to critically ill patients.
Transfusion centers in Mantova, Padova, and Pisa (Italy) have received free equipment for this procedure, along with kits necessary for preparing 3.200 units of convalescent plasma. An experimental clinical protocol has already been developed by the Service of Immunohematology and Transfusion Medicine of San Matteo Hospital in Pavia in collaboration with other institutions such as those in Lodi and Mantova, and the University Hospital in Padova (Italy).
It will be possible to treat the more critical patients with this plasma.
In order to increase the availability of convalescent plasma, the essential raw material in the battle against this infectious epidemic, Kedrion Biopharma will provide the Italian Transfusion Service with its viral inactivation technology and the additional tests required, including a specific antibodies titer test.
The procedure will be carried out at Kedrion’s Sant’Antimo (Naples, Italy) production site, where COVID-19 convalescent patient plasma will be tested for the presence of viruses transmissible via blood and treated with solvent/detergent (S/D) in order to eliminate all viruses. In the near future, once the test for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody titer becomes available at Transfusion Centers, it will also be possible to use plasma from COVID-19 asymptomatic patients testing negative to PCR.