Mayo Clinic was awarded a $26 million contract today from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The financial support is for the Expanded Access Program (EAP) for convalescent plasma to fight COVID-19. Announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 3, the national program, which is led by Mayo Clinic researcher Michael Joyner, M.D., coordinates a national online physician/patient registry (uscovidplasma.org) that speeds access and increases availability of experimental convalescent plasma for hospitalized patients in need.
The BARDA funding comes at a time most needed to continue expanding access and infrastructure for this therapeutic countermeasure effort. In less than a month, more than 2,000 hospitals and 4,000 physicians have enrolled 10,000 patients. As of today, more than 5,000 patients have been infused and thousands more are potentially eligible for convalescent plasma.
“Mayo Clinic mobilized quickly to advance convalescent plasma in a scientific way,” says Dr. Joyner, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and the program’s principal investigator. “We are pleased to work with our colleagues and the federal government to fight this pandemic every way we can as part of Mayo’s patient-focused mission. The genuine collaboration of researchers across the nation is key to realizing the full potential of convalescent plasma treatment.”
The federal support will help cover the cost of collecting and distributing the convalescent plasma, increase patient access, and support the scientific and regulatory infrastructure to operate the program. Mayo Clinic serves as the central Institutional Review Board (IRB) to oversee the EAP.
“Federal support for research is essential. This additional funding will not only sustain the program, but amplify its effectiveness and enhance our ability to engage an even greater number of patients and providers to participate,” says Gregory Gores, M.D., Kinney Executive Dean for Research at Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic is grateful for the funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.”
Convalescent plasma refers to blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19. That plasma is then used to treat others with advanced illness. In order to participate, plasma donors must go through testing to verify they have recovered from COVID-19 and have no other underlying health conditions. The patient is transfused with the convalescent donor’s plasma, which contains antibodies that may lessen severity of disease.
Physicians at any institution in the United States who are treating hospitalized patients with COVID-19 can register their patients’ information at uscovidplasma.org for access through the EAP.
Mayo Clinic is committed to advancing the science of medicine to ensure patients are able to benefit from new discoveries as quickly as possible. Mayo’s goal is to rapidly discover and apply scientific advances that will defeat this deadly disease.
This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority under Contract No. 75A50120C00096.
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