COVID-19 Drugs: Phase Two Clinical Trial Of Degarelix Launched To Treat Only Male COVID-19 Patients
: Medical researchers from University California-Los Angeles have launched a new clinical trial that utilizes a hormone suppresser often used to prostate cancer to help improve clinical outcomes for males infected with COVID-19.
The clinical trial which is in phase 2, will assess if temporarily suppressing male hormones will reduce the severity of COVID-19 illness by helping patients get out of the hospital faster, decrease the need for intubation and improve mortality.
The clinical study led by UCLA, is being conducted at the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and other VA sites across the country.
Principal investigator Dr Matthew Rettig, a Professor of medicine and urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center told Thailand Medical News, "It is becoming pretty clear that males are more likely than females to die from COVID-19 and we think there is a connection between prostate cancer research and our understanding of COVID-19 research."
Emerging data from New York City, the epicenter of infections in the United States, show that males are not only infected in greater numbers, but they are also dying at nearly twice the rate of females.
The correlation between prostate cancer research and COVID-19 research begins with a protein receptor called TMPRSS2, which is abnormal in about half of all prostate cancer patients and plays a role in the development and progression of prostate cancer.
Interestingly, this is the same receptor that researchers believe the virus uses to enter the lungs and attack lung tissue. The receptor is regulated by male hormones in prostate cancer, and researchers believe it may also be regulated in lung tissue by male hormones.
Dr Rettig, who is also the chief of hematology and oncology at the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System said, "It is a kind of like a lock and key. If the virus was the key and its receptor is the lock, then the virus inserts into the lock and can gain entry into the lung while the male hormones makes that lock more accessible to the virus. By suppressing the male hormones, it is kind of like putting a piece of masking tape over the lock so that the key won't fit in."
For the UCLA-led clinical trial, researchers will suppress male hormones using the FDA-approved medication known as degarelix, to temporarily shut down the production of TMPRSS2 and block the virus from entering lung tissue.
Dr Rettig added, "We are hoping this will not only help males with COVID-19 get out of the hospital faster, but ultimately, see less males dying from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.”
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