Hackensack Meridian gets $5.5M in funding to continue COVID plasma research

Hackensack Meridian Health has been awarded approximately $5.5 million in Department of Defense funding to continue its work into convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19 patients, it announced Thursday.

The health system said its researchers and clinical experts at the John Theurer Cancer Center and Center for Discovery and Innovation now will be able to continue phase 2 testing of the clinical treatments.

“We are trying to save lives,” Dr. Michele Donato, chief of stem cell transplantation and cellular therapy at the Theurer Cancer Center, who is leading the study. “We believe we have done so — and the Department of Defense grant allows us to move the work forward to that end.”

The idea is that infected patients can be treated within the first 96 hours of symptoms with the antibodies found in plasma collected from COVID-19 survivors, with a goal of preventing the new patients from being hospitalized.

“The Department of Defense funds will further our efforts to establish the necessary standards for this to be used as successful therapy,” David Perlin, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the CDI, said in a statement.