Researchers Looking at PRP for COVID’s Loss of Taste and Smell
As a pandemic, COVID has certainly wreaked havoc on modern society. As a disease, it is capable of doing things to human biology that science cannot yet explain. For example, some long-haul COVID patients experience a loss of taste and smell. Researchers are now looking at a variety of potential treatments including the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
PRP therapy is normally administered by way of injection, according to the pain doctors at Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX. Furthermore, the injections are usually reserved for treating soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal diseases. This is the first time that PRP has been looked into for something of this nature.
Healing Damaged Tissue
The thought process behind PRP injections is one of healing damaged tissue. The injected material does not do the actual healing per se. Rather, it is believed that the material signals the body that an injury is present and needs attention. The body responds by sending the necessary biological materials to heal the damaged tissue.
This seems to work because PRP contains elevated levels of blood platelets and growth factors, both of which are integral to the healing process. When injected, PRP is sent right to the area of damage – be at a torn muscle, an arthritic knee, etc.
Knowing what they know about PRP, researchers at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Health believe the regenerative medicine procedure can help heal cells damaged by COVID. However, the PRP material is not being injected. Instead, it is being administered with a small sponge.
Getting Right to Damaged Cells
For the COVID procedure, researchers are using PRP-soaked sponges that are inserted through the nose and placed high in the nasal cavity. There, the PRP material effectively does the same thing it would with soft tissue. The material alerts the body to damaged cells to kick start the healing process.
According to the researchers, they have now tried the therapy with nine patients. Eight of them have already responded. The patients are not getting their sense of taste and smell back overnight, but they are getting it back gradually. One particular patient has received monthly treatments for the last five months. After having been without taste and smell since February 2021, she says they are slowly coming back.
Patients Donate Their Own Blood
PRP therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that relies on blood donated by the patient being treated. This type of biologic material is known as autologous material and has already been approved by the FDA as long as it remains minimally manipulated. What does this mean?
It means that patients donate their own blood for the PRP procedure. The blood is processed in a specialized centrifuge in order to isolate platelets and growth factors. The resulting material is utilized for the treatment. It is not altered in any other way.
This is an important point to note because regenerative medicine critics often claim that procedures like PRP and stem cell injections are not approved. To the contrary, procedures utilizing minimally manipulated autologous material are both approved and governed by FDA guidelines.
Healing Is the Key
The Philadelphia researchers looking into PRP therapy to restore COVID’s loss of taste and smell believe in the ability to encourage natural healing with the blood platelets and growth factors. Meanwhile, the pain doctors at Lone Star Pain Medicine utilize PRP treatments to address soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal diseases. Both are relying on the same principle: that the body is more than capable of healing itself if given the right kind of help.