Bald men at higher risk of severe case of Covid-19, research finds – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: June 5, 2020 at 11:57 pm

Prostate cancer specialists are familiar with the role androgens can play in disease because in the prostate, the hormones stimulate an enzyme that boosts cancerous growth. In April, researchers published a paper in the journalCellwhich showed that the enzymeTMPRSS2is also involved in coronavirus infections.

To infect a cell, coronaviruses - including the novel SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19 - use what is called a 'spike' protein that binds to the cell's membrane,a process that is activated by an enzyme. In this case, it appears that TMPRSS2 may be that enzyme.

Scientists do not yet know if the enzyme responds in the same way to androgens in the lungs as it does in the prostate, but other evidence appears to support the potential link.

A study from Veneto, Italy, of 9,280 patients found that men with prostate cancer who were on androgen-deprivation therapy - drugs that cut testosterone levels - were only a quarter as likely to contract Covid-19 as men with the disease who were on other treatments.

Karen Stalbow, Head of Policy at Prostate Cancer UK, said: There have been several recent pieces of research which indicate there may be a link between male hormones and increased risk of Covid-19. This has led some researchers to investigate whether hormone therapies commonly used to treat prostate cancer, such as enzalutamide, could reduce this risk.

However, most of the research so far has been in the lab, and there is conflicting evidence over whether the hormone therapies have the same impact in the lungs as they would in prostate cells. There are now several clinical studies starting which hope to address these issues, but much more evidence is needed before we can know whether these hormone therapies would be an effective treatment for Covid-19.

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Bald men at higher risk of severe case of Covid-19, research finds - Telegraph.co.uk

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