Grifols takes part in Microsoft-backed project to use plasma in new Covid-19 therapies

27 May 2020


Catalan pharmaceutical company Grifols has joined a coalition to boost a project to accelerate the development of potential new Covid-19 therapies.

Under the name The Fight Is In Us, the campaign is mobilizing tens of thousands of people that have recovered from the disease in the US to donate their plasma, which contains antibodies that have fought off the disease, using a self-screening tool developed by Microsoft Corp.

The coalition brings together world-class medical and research institutions, blood centers, life science companies, philanthropic organizations as well as Covid-19 survivor groups.

The project aims at recruiting Covid-19 survivors within two months of their recovery to ensure that their blood plasma contains a robust concentration of antibodies to have a positive effect on patients.

Therefore, the group tackles one of the main challenges for the development of new therapies, which is the shortage of plasma donors.

As part of The Fight Is In Us campaign, partners are working on two distinct approaches for treating Covid-19. As a plasma-specializing pharmaceutical company, Grifols is one of the partners leading the development of a medicine known as a hyperimmune globulin (H-Ig), which is currently being manufactured and will be studied in clinical trials this summer.

Through the manufacturing process, the plasma is pooled, concentrated and purified, resulting in a vial of medicine with consistent levels of antibodies.

According to Grifol’s Chief Innovation Officer, David Bell, “the development of a hyperimmune globulin for treatment as well as pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis is not just a rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to its attributes as a readily available therapy, it can bridge the time necessary to develop a vaccine”.

Bell reckons “the technology also forms the basis for rapid deployment of a therapy in response to future outbreaks of emerging viruses and other pathogens. The Fight Is In Us provides the opportunity to harness biology’s natural solution to fighting disease”.

Another approach focuses on the direct transfusion of blood plasma to patients, a process whose safety and efficacy are currently being evaluated through clinical trials.

Overall, the coalition offers more than 1,500 locations at which Covid-19 survivors can choose to donate.

The campaign is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lasker Foundation, as well as Microsoft Corp, among other companies and organizations offering tech support.

Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, AI and Research, Peter Lee, said “Microsoft has provided the technology infrastructure for a health bot that guides people through their eligibility as a plasma donor and directs them to the nearest donor center. Basically, we’re asking people who have survived Covid-19 to contribute to helping others do the same”.

Source: Grifols and The Fight Is In Us

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