April 6, 2020

Mayo Clinic accelerates COVID-19 research

By Susan Murphy

Mayo Clinic researchers and doctors are working to combat COVID-19, from the front lines to the laboratories. Here is the latest information to help keep your family healthy and safe.

Mayo Clinic named national site for Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Mayo Clinic will be the lead institution providing coordinated access to investigational convalescent plasma for hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, or those at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the designation on Friday, April 3.

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. The plasma donor must have recovered from, and tested negative for, COVID-19 and be otherwise healthy. The patient is transfused with the donor's plasma, which contains antibodies that can attack the virus and may help patients recover more rapidly. Read more.

Working toward a COVID-19 vaccine

The push to create a vaccine that prevents people from contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues. Dr. Stacey Rizza, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist, says developing a vaccine takes research, money and time.

"Everyone wants to have a vaccine ready right now," says Dr. Rizza. "Researchers around the globe and at Mayo Clinic are working as fast as they can to make it happen. But before we have a vaccine for general use, we have to make sure it is properly developed and tested."

Dr. Rizza says that Mayo Clinic is heavily involved in vaccine development for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, investigating several different approaches. In addition, Mayo Clinic is in discussions with biotechnology firms and pharmaceutical companies about co-developing and testing additional vaccine possibilities. Read more.

How does COVID-19 affect the heart?

The effects of COVID-19 on the lungs are well-known. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more information is becoming available about the role the virus, called SARS-CoV-2, has on the heart. "Individuals with known cardiovascular disease are at an increased risk of more severe complications from respiratory viral illnesses, including the flu and COVID-19," says Dr. Leslie Cooper, chair of the Department of Cardiology at Mayo Clinic.

"We know that during severe SARS-CoV-2 infection,  heart function may decrease. Sometimes this decrease is a consequence of the systemic inflammatory response to infection, and occasionally, in some people, because of direct viral infection in the heart." Read more.

Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: The ‘unprecedented challenge’ of fighting COVID-19

The ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily burdened front-line health care providers. "Our nation and our medical community is facing an unprecedented challenge," says Dr. Elie Berbari, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mayo Clinic.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Berbari discusses how Mayo Clinic is minimizing exposure to staff, while providing safe and compassionate care to patients.

Click the player below:

COVID-19 expert explains what soap does to SARS-CoV-2 virus

 Your hand has oils on it, and viruses stick to that oil. They have an electrostatic charge to them. But when you're washing with soap, soap has things that decrease surface tension in them so you are physically rubbing by friction and washing away that virus. It is the most effective thing we know to do. That's why surgeons, for example, scrub their hands so very carefully before they go into an OR. It works, and it works really well.

 Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and director of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, explains what soap does to SARS-CoV-2, and other viruses and bacteria. Read more.

Learn more

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional updates on COVID-19. For all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Join the conversation

For more information on the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, visit FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter at @MayoClinicCIM

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