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‘DUHS researchers make COVID-19 breakthrough’

By Mukhtar Alam:

The researchers at Karachi’s Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), on April 13, claimed having achieved a significant breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19.
They, according to a DUHS press release, have succeeded in preparing intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) with plasma obtained from cured patients of coronavirus. “Through the IVIG the coronavirus patients can be treated.”
The researchers, led by Dr Shaukat Ali, Principal, Dow College of Biotechnology, were of the view that their method was considerably different from plasma therapy, which is allowed only in emergencies due to its side effects. “Treating a coronavirus patient with IVIG is safe and highly effective, with small risk.”
They further remarked that the treatment by hyper immunoglobulin (H-IVIG) is already approved by the US Federal agency, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for normal conditions.
The press release said that the research team has developed this H-IVIG after days of continuous hard work. “The team was able to collect first blood sample in March 2020 and managed to isolate antibodies chemically, purified it and later concentrated these antibodies.”
It was further stated that this happened to be the first global report of isolation, formulation and safety demonstration of immunoglobulin purified from recovered COVID-19 patient and can be a ray of hope in this time of crisis when the country is faced with coronavirus.
“The method is also a type of passive immunization but uses purified antibodies rather than the whole plasma. The treatment does not carry the undesired component of blood like plasma proteins, potential bacterial and viral pathogens,” the DUHS communication quoted the researcher group saying such purified antibodies are commercially available globally against diseases like tetanus, rabies, Influenza and hepatitis.
“Laboratory testing and safety trial of the formulated product (experimental vials) in animals have been successful,” it added.
In the meantime, the university Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr M Saeed Quraishy has assigned task to clinicians at Dow hospital to team up with researchers to devise a strategy for fulfilling ethical and regulatory requirements for trials.
The members of the IVIG research team included Dr Shobha Luxmi, Syed Muneebuddin, Mir Rashid Ali, Ayesha Ali, Mujtaba Khan, Fatima Anjum and Dr Sohaib Tauheed.

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