Plasma therapy is a “magic medicine”? Is the risk greater than the efficacy? The truth is here.

Plasma therapy? Is it the first time a lot of people have heard of it? Yes, this treatment is used in the treatment of new coronary pneumonia. According to statistics, as of March 5, 919 people have donated plasma, about 294,450 ml of plasma. On March 6, Zhou Qi, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said at a press conference that the treatment of critically ill patients by the rehabilitation of plasma has been seen to achieve better clinical results, and the efficiency is convincing.

At present, 154 cases of severe patients have been treated, clinically showing good results.

So what is plasma therapy? Can you fight new coronal pneumonia? Let’s take a look today.

What is rehabilitation plasma therapy?

At present, the exact and effective suppression of the new coronavirus is antibodies, but can not be industrial production. And the recovery period plasma therapy of the new coronary pneumonia recovery, the core is to use its contained antibodies to neutralize the virus, inhibit infection, to achieve rehabilitation.

The body has two ways to “self-produce” antibodies against a virus:

One is a virus infection once, the disease, and then produce antibodies;

Second, the artificial method of “tossing” the virus is half dead, weaken its pathogenicity, but retain the virus’s “characteristic appearance”, injection into the body, in the case of not ill (reduced toxicity), stimulate the body to produce (for the virus characteristics of the appearance) antibodies, this is known as the “vaccine”.

Simply put, the principle of antibody production (see figure below):

Plasma therapy is a "magic medicine"? Is the risk greater than the efficacy? The truth is here.

Picture: Author Productions

1, the virus or “vaccine” as an “foreign object” invades our body, the blood of mononucleosis (one of the white blood warriors) will drill out of the blood vessels, reaching the tissue into macrophages;

2, macrophages swallow this “unidentified alien”, they kneaded, identified the virus’s “characteristic appearance”, and then reported to the superior T-cell;

3, T cells (immune commander, produce terrible cytokines, external killing virus, internal injury of their own organs) will be the characteristics of the virus to inform B cells;

4, Part of the B cell growth effect B cells (pulp cells), specializing in the production of antibodies (about 10 days after the start of the production of IgM, 2 to 3 weeks to reach the peak of IgG antibodies) to catch the virus. Other B cells grow into memory B cells, remembering the characteristics of the virus for a long time. If the virus invades/infects the body again, the “long-term” B cells will rapidly and largely grow into effect B cells, producing a devastating amount of antibody IgG (within 3 to 5 days);

5, high affinity Of IgG will quickly remove the virus.

In the absence of viral infection, the active injection of “detoxification vaccine” to ensure that the premise of no disease stimulates the body to produce antibodies process, is the active production of antibodies behavior, called “active immunity.”

Infusion rehabilitation is rich in antibody plasma to deal with the virus in the body, this process is called “passive immunity”, is also the principle of the rehabilitation of plasma therapy.

How has plasma therapy been discovered in history?

“Plasma therapy” is an ancient method of treatment for infectious diseases.

German scientist Behring reported the first case of a cure in 1891 using a serum containing diphtheria antitoxin, and he won the Nobel Prize in 1901 for his outstanding contribution.

In the early 19th century, diphtheria was a highly mortal infectious disease. Bellin and colleagues found that after injecting the healthy mice with diphtheria, most of the mice died slowly because of diphtheria. However, the mice that had survived diphtheria were injected with the serum of other sick mice, and the mice were able to survive. Thus, it is assumed that the serum of the surviving mice contains some kind of substance that fights diphtheria, known as “antitoxin”, which is called antibodies.

Over the next 100 years, the rehabilitation plasma therapy was used in poliomyelitis (1916), the Spanish flu (1917-1919), measles, Argentine haemorrhagic fever, chickenpox, cytomegalovirus, AIDS, Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS), SARS (2002-2003), Treatment during outbreaks of infectious diseases such as influenza A(H1N1) (2009, United States).

In the SARS outbreak 18 years ago, several studies have observed improved clinical outcomes in patients with recovering plasma therapy. A retrospective study found a 23 percent reduced risk of death in the plasma therapy group.

Is plasma a “magic potion”?

Some plasma containing antibodies (i.e. antitoxins) can be effectively prevented: for example, being bitten by cats and dogs, deep bruised by rusty iron sharpers, in order to prevent tetanus, injection of tetanus antitoxins can effectively neutralise tetanus Clostridium difficile. For example, being bitten by a cobra, quickly injected with anti-cobra serum, you can moderate cobra venom, saving lives.

But all plasma therapy should be at the right time: it’s too late to work.

Researchers in Hong Kong, China, studied the timing of plasma therapy in SARS patients: the clinical outcome of using plasma therapy within 16 days of the onset of the disease was better. If the recovery serum and virus can be used before the cytokine storm (approximately 16 days), the damage to the body caused by the immune system can be greatly reduced and the cure rate can be improved.

In the event of a cytokine storm, which leads to multiple organ failure and respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), the antibodies are powerless.

The plasma treatment programme therefore emphasizes that plasma therapy is not suitable for patients with critical end-of-life, irreversible multi-organ failure.

What are the risks of plasma therapy?

Plasma therapy is not universal, risky and limited.

The plasma contains a variety of proteins that can lead to adverse reactions;

Macromolecular proteins or cytokines in plasma can lead to severe allergic reactions (low blood pressure, anaphylactic shock, etc.) and blood transfusion-related lung damage (severe for neovirovirus pneumonia). Plasma may contain hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, HIV virus, syphilis, etc. , infusion of these plasma may lead to infection, such as hepatitis B, AIDS and so on.

Blood type problems

Although infusion is no blood cell plasma, but the plasma of type A blood has anti-B antibodies, can not be used for type B blood patients;

Limited plasma source

The plasma donated during the recovery period of the new coronavirus pneumonia recovery is limited, while the quality of blood products is high, the process is cumbersome, and the antibody (IgG) concentration of the donor is sufficiently high.

Limited adaptation to crowds

Only adapted to a specific time and the disease progresses rapidly in severe and critically ill patients, the matching type is more limited.

Despite the limitations and risks, the current treatment of seriously ill patients is an important choice, the risk is much smaller than the benefit.

In short, the plasma during the recovery period of the new coronary pneumonia recovery period contains a large number of antibodies, proper use can neutralise the virus, saving lives. Plasma therapy is very professional and complex. For the public, understanding this therapy encourages the rehabilitation of people to actively donate plasma. Let us fight the epidemic together and return to normal life as soon as possible.