• Blood Donation
  • COVID-19

Researchers at Renown Seek Convalescent Plasma Study Participants

20 de abril de 2021

thomas donating convalescent plasma for covid 19 research

Physician researchers seek to understand how the immune system responds to COVID-19 and create a healthier Nevada.

During the early stages of the pandemic, convalescent plasma was considered the only viable treatment option available for patients with COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is the component of the blood from recovered patients that may contain COVID-19 antibodies that help fight the infection. The National Institutes of Health has since developed treatment guidelines for COVID-19 based on clinical trial data and many studies are still underway worldwide assessing various additional treatment options.

Convalescent plasma was in high demand but difficult to locate for COVID-19 patients in the northern Nevada area. A 24-year-old nursing assistant, Austin Meegan, was hospitalized and spent weeks staving off kidney and lung failure before learning he was eligible for an experimental blood transfusion that showed promise in treating COVID-19. Doctors estimated Meegan had only about a 3% chance of tracking down a donor to match his rare blood type. A COVID-19 survivor, Thomas Gibson, a Texas resident with the same blood type, traveled to Reno to donate his viral antibodies and a convalescent plasma donation credited with helping to save Meegan’s life.

Physician clinical researchers and scientists at Renown and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) knew they needed to create better options for patients and physicians. Clinical researchers developed a study to help other patients like Austin, and pleaded for donations from recovered COVID-19 patients to donate their convalescent plasma. The researcher teams looked to understand how the body’s immune system responds to the virus over time, to aid them in developing new treatments for COVID-19.

“The world’s capacity to get through the COVID crisis will depend on four things — science, technology, innovation and partnerships, says Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, President and CEO of Renown Health.  “Taking lab bench discoveries to the bedside of patients in an efficacious and timely manner is not easy, but with UNR Med and our partners, we are making great strides in advancing clinical research which has the power to save lives and to create a healthier Nevada.”

“It’s tremendously promising to partner on clinical research that will not only help us better understand the disease, but help inform treatment for those combatting COVID-19 that has had such a devastating impact on Nevadans, our nation and the world,” says UNR Med Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, MD.

Renown, UNR Med and other area health care partners collaborated with Vitalant to collect plasma from recovered donors for a study on the treatment's efficacy. Eligible donors are at least 18 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds and are healthy. Donors had fully recovered from a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.

Project coordinators at the Renown Research Office were overwhelmed by the community’s support and plasma blood donations. Las asociaciones adicionales con el Distrito de Salud del Condado de Washoe, el estado de Nevada y la Oficina del Gobernador, Saint Mary’s Medical Center, Northern Nevada Medical Center, Carson Tahoe Health y VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, junto con muchos proveedores de atención médica del área, ayudaron al equipo a alcanzar sus objetivos de inscribir a 120 participantes elegibles en el estudio.

“Our success in this study rests heavily on the support of our great community, as well as the innovation and collaboration demonstrated by Renown and UNR Med,” said Sara Healy, MD, MPH, principal investigator of the study and a pediatric infectious disease physician at Renown Children’s Hospital and UNR Med. “We are proud to be at the forefront of conducting essential research during such a pivotal time in history, and look forward to our continued partnership as we continue this important work.”

“The control of COVID-19 in our communities relies on testing. The study that is being launched to develop a sensitive, specific and easier way to collect specimens (blood) is advancing the field and brings promise towards getting to our common goal of having the right diagnostic test for the right clinical situation at the right time,” says Mark Riddle, MD, DrPH, FISTM, associate investigator of the study and associate dean for clinical research and professor at UNR Med's Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Research.

The research team is now asking area residents to participate in a study to analyze the efficacy of two COVID-19 tests. Participants will undergo two blood tests: one being a finger stick to provide results for a rapid test, and the other is a traditional venipuncture draw confirming the presence or absence of COVID-19 antibodies. This study is a collaboration with InBios International, Inc., a leading biotechnology company based in Seattle.

Researchers are seeking:

  1. Individuals who have confirmed positive for COVID-19 and who have recently recovered from the virus. Los participantes del estudio deben estar en un período de entre 7 y 28 días posteriores al inicio de sus síntomas.
  2. Individuals who have recently tested negative for COVID-19 and have never tested positive.

Los interesados en participar en el estudio pueden ponerse en contacto con los coordinadores del proyecto en la Oficina de Investigación de Renown al (775) 982-3646, o por correo electrónico a covidplasmascreening@renown.org, de lunes a viernes, de 7:30 a.m. a 5:00 p.m.

Se anima a las personas de entre 18 y 75 años con buena salud en general a que consideren la posibilidad de participar en este estudio en curso. There is no cost to participate in this study and participation is voluntary. An individual’s decision to participate will not affect their current or future relations with their health care provider(s), health district, or the community. Those who decide to participate are free to withdraw at any time.

“Time is of the essence with COVID. If we can get test results to people and their clinicians in a more timely way, we can make a faster diagnosis of a patient's condition, says Christopher M. Kozlowski, MD, MHA, Renown's institutional research officer and Medical Director/VP of Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health. “As we refine the accuracy of our testing; we are applying sensitivity and specificity testing for true negative and true positive results. This provides people with more timely and accurate results and better quality care.”



Acerca de Renown Health

Renown Health es una red de atención de la salud integrada de administración local sin fines de lucro que brinda servicios en el norte de Nevada, Lake Tahoe y el noreste de California. Renown es uno de los mayores empleadores privados de la región y cuenta con una fuerza laboral de más de 7,000. It comprises three acute care hospitals, a rehabilitation hospital, the area’s most comprehensive medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest and only locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown tiene una larga trayectoria y un compromiso de larga data con la mejora de la atención y la salud de nuestra comunidad.  


About the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med), Nevada’s first medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Fundada en 1969, la UNR Med está mejorando la salud y el bienestar de todos los residentes de Nevada y sus comunidades mediante excelencia en la educación estudiantil, capacitación de posgrado y atención clínica, investigación con impacto local, nacional y global y una cultura de diversidad e inclusión. For more information, visit med.unr.edu.