Michigan Medicine and three other medical centers receive $7 million for COVID-19 outpatient convalescent plasma therapy trial

Author | Kara Gavin

A team of  Michigan Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Medical University of South Carolina and Stanford Medicine researchers were recently awarded funds from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with 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 (HHS), totaling more than $7 million to collaboratively study the role of convalescent plasma in mitigating symptoms of COVID-19 in patients with mild illness and preventing the progression of the disease from mild to severe.  

Convalescent plasma is derived from blood donated by persons who have already had COVID-19 and have recovered. Convalescent plasma contains antibodies that can bind to the virus that causes COVID-19 and neutralize it. Currently, convalescent plasma can be given as a treatment for patients in the hospital with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, a process called passive immunization.

Conducted as part of the NHLBI Collaborating Network of Networks for Evaluating COVID-19 and Therapeutic Strategies (CONNECTS) initiative, the Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma of Outpatients (C3PO) aims to evaluate whether passive immunization can be a safe and efficacious therapy in preventing the progression from mild to severe or critical COVID-19 illness and to understand the immunologic impact of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies on the disease after passive immunization. 

“This trial will focus on patients with mild COVID-19 who have a high risk of developing severe illness, and who stand to benefit most if this approach works as an early treatment,” said Frederick Korley, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan and one of the principal investigators on the C3PO study. “This includes patients over age 50, those with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes and patients who are immunocompromised.”

“We think that convalescent plasma has the best chance of being effective if used when patients are just starting to show symptoms in order to decrease viral replication and the resulting severe inflammatory response that can be so damaging,” said Simone Glynn, M.D.,M.P.H., chief of the NHLBI’s Blood Epidemiology and Clinical Therapeutics branch. “What we want to find out is whether this plasma is effective enough to keep these at-risk patients from progressing to a point where they need hospitalization.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 16 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and more than 650,000 have died from the disease.

C3PO will study 600 COVID-19 patients at 50 U.S. medical centers who present to the emergency department with mild illness.

This research will be funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA) as a sub award under the NHLBI Other Transaction award 1OT2HL156812-01.

The study is being coordinated through the SIREN Emergency Clinical Trials Network, whose Clinical Coordinating Center is located in the Michigan Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine. Full information on the trial is available on the SIREN site.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


Featured News & Stories person in white coat at laptop green fruit in hand
Health Lab
Both virtual and in-person nutrition visits help to lower cholesterol
The use of telehealth remains high, with over 20% of American adults taking appointments online. These visits include video calls with registered dietitian nutritionists, who have a critical role in helping patients take on lifestyle changes through medical nutrition therapy. With a focus on the changing digital landscape, researchers at Michigan Medicine found that telemedicine patients with hyperlipidemia — an excess of cholesterol or fats in the blood — experienced similar positive health benefits compared to those who had in-person visits.
Aerial view of student and teacher in medical setting
News Release
University of Michigan Health recognized as a 2023 Leapfrog Top Teaching Hospital
University of Michigan Health recognized as a 2023 Leapfrog Top Teaching Hospital
Aerial view of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital
News Release
U-M Health receives U.S. News & World Report’s highest award for maternity care
ANN ARBOR, Mich. –  University of Michigan Health Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital has again been recognized as a top hospital in the country for maternity care by U.S. News & World Report.
cannabis leaf sketched blue
Health Lab
1 in 8 older adults use cannabis products, suggesting need to screen for risks
The Michigan Medicine finding suggest a need for more education and screening of older adults for cannabis-related risks.
Minding Memory with a microphone and a shadow of a microphone on a blue background
Minding Memory
Vision Impairment as a Risk Factor for Dementia
The population of older adults living with dementia is expected to swell to nearly 14 million by 2050 and is estimated to cost the US economy more than 500 billion each year. In the absence of a cure for Alzheimer's disease, the primary cause of dementia, there's interest in understanding modifiable risk factors. In theory, getting a handle on the modifiable risk factors for dementia, would enable public health efforts to reduce cognitive decline in dementia at the population level. We've come a long way in understanding the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias. However, there's still work to be done. In this episode, we'll speak with Dr. Josh Ehrlich, a researcher at the University of Michigan, who has examined vision impairment as a risk factor for dementia.
purple cells floating up close
Health Lab
Study links gene network and pancreatic beta cell defects to type 2 diabetes
Teams from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Michigan design a comprehensive study that integrates multiple analytic approaches that has linked a regulatory gene network and functional defects in insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells to type 2 diabetes.