2. How does plasma therapy work? Explain.
प्लाज्मा थेरेपी कैसे काम करती है? समझाएं।
Demand of the question:
It expects students to give a clear account of the basics of plasma therapy. It also expects students to write about the working mechanism of plasma therapy and its recent health sector needs and probable applications.
Several countries, including India, are seriously looking at plasma therapy as a potential treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Plasma therapy uses blood donated by recovered patients to introduce antibodies in those under treatment.
This therapy’s concept is simple and is based on the premise that the blood of a patient who has recovered from disease contains antibodies with the specific ability of fighting virus. The theory is that the recovered patient’s antibodies, once ingested into somebody under treatment, will begin targeting and fighting the virus in the second patient.
Working mechanism of plasma therapy:
- The plasma therapy uses antibodies developed within an infected person while he/she is infected with the virus.
- These antibodies are developed in a patient as part of the body’s natural immune response to a foreign pathogen.
- These antibodies are highly specific to the invading pathogen and so, work to eliminate the foreign pathogen from the patient’s body.
- Once the patient has recovered, they donate their blood so that their antibodies can be used to treat other patients. The donated blood is then checked for the presence of any other disease-causing agents such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV etc.
- If deemed safe, the blood is then taken through a process to extract ‘plasma’, the liquid part of the blood that contains antibodies. The antibody-rich plasma, once extracted, is then ingested into the body of a patient under treatment.
- Earlier, the United States used plasma of recovered patients to treat patients of Spanish flu. In 2009, the Swine flu (H1N1) patients were treated with plasma. It has also been used to treat critically ill patients during Ebola as well.
- It is also proved effective in the COVID-19 outbreak when COVID-19 patients treated with convalescent plasma have garnered good results.
Besides the success of the convalescent plasma therapy, the study by John Hopkins immunologists stated some of the risks associated with it:
- Transfer of blood substances: As the blood transfusion takes place, there are risks that an inadvertent infection might get transferred to the patient.
- Enhancement of infection: The therapy might fail for some patients and can result in an enhanced form of the infection.
- Effect on immune system: The antibody administration may end up suppressing the body’s natural immune response, leaving a Covid-19 patient vulnerable to subsequent re-infection.
Plasma therapy’s potential as treatment for Covid-19 has already been explored in limited trial improvement in clinical status. With its wide scale and flexible application for other disease treatments, plasma therapy can prove to be a game changer in the future to tackle the global pandemic challenges like COVID-19.