MSCR Graduates Conduct Ebola Treatment Clinical Trial

Anne Winkler, MD, MSc and Colleen Kraft, MD, MSc, both Emory University School of Medicine Assistant Professors in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) Master in Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) graduates, are conducting a clinical trial through the collection of U.S. Ebola survivors’ “convalescent” plasma. They are investigating if transfusing plasma from people who have survived the infection could possibly save the newly ill. It may prove effective in treatment of Ebola in conjunction with other methods. Winkler is also a consultant in a parallel study that is currently underway in the Ebola-afflicted Liberia, in which plasma is collected from their survivors.

Emory uses a device called the INTERCEPT Blood System to minimize the risk of pathogens from the plasma. The collection is by apheresis, during which the plasma component is removed, and the red blood cells are returned to the survivor. Treatment with the INTERCEPT plasma system then allows for inactivation of any pathogens found in the plasma donations, like malaria. Winkler is testing the plasma before and after this process, ensuring that they not only characterize the immune profile, but also to be sure that no alterations are made to the Ebola antibodies in the INTERCEPT process. “The MSCR program provided me with the background knowledge I needed to design and implement this clinical trial at Emory,” said Winkler. The Ebola Plasma Bank at Emory University Hospital stores this plasma, aiming to use the antibodies to neutralize the active virus in a recipient’s blood. Continue reading from Emory University’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center Update

The Emory Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) degree program, from the Laney Graduate School at Emory University, provides didactic and mentored clinical and translational research training. The degree is designed for participants at Emory University and Georgia Tech who hold a doctorate or equivalent degree (such as physicians and PhD-level scientists) or predoctoral trainees enrolled in a dual degree program (MD/MSCR and PhD/MSCR tracks) and have demonstrated a commitment to a career in clinical investigation. Morehouse School of Medicine also has an MSCR program for MSM applicants supported through an RCMI grant.

The ACTSI is a city-wide partnership between Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Tech and is one of a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences one of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

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