The immunoglobulin antibody (Ab), is a large Y-shaped protein produced primarily by white blood cells called plasma cells (B cells), which serve the immune system by neutralizing pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Immunoglobulin therapy is a treatment used for different health conditions whereby a mixture of antibodies (immunoglobulins) is used. This treatment method is not new. The first treatment was performed in the 1930s, and drugs that were produced based on this method were approved for intravenous injection in the United States in 1981.
For the treatment, antibodies are extracted from blood cells of patients who recovered from the disease. This treatment is usually considered safe, but there are cases where it can cause side effects such as allergic reactions, renal failure and, in rare cases, severe infection.
Patients who have recovered from Covid-19, the disease name for those who suffered from the coronavirus disease, have actually produced antibodies against the virus in their bodies. However, this does not indicate that they can be used for vaccine production. Different patients have different coping abilities for the same virus and therefore they will produce different antibodies. The variety of responses in different patients makes it difficult to assess treatment outcomes. Despite the challenges, researchers in China have tried this approach and have already reported initial and promising results. Thirteen people who were in serious condition received immunoglobulin treatment and recovered within a few days. American researchers hope to increase the intensity of treatment by selecting a donor with a large amount of antibodies in their blood and injecting this dose to patients who are likely to need it.
The obvious advantage of using this method is that it is an immediate solution. Producing drugs and vaccines takes months, maybe years until the development and testing processes are completed. Using blood antibodies after filtering the extracted blood is relatively safe, provided that viruses and other infectious agents are swept out. This tool can be used as a means of coping with patient influx that fill hospitals past their capacity. In addition, this may be an important treatment for medical staff by fortifying their immune systems to the disease and reducing their chance of infection. Due to the rapid rise in the number of patients, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on March 23 that it will allow emergency use of plasma for patients who need it, as early as next week.Sources;