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UCLA To Study Role Of Hormones In Veterans Suffering From Severe COVID-19 Illness

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With a recent study find that men are dying two to three times more frequently than women from COVID-19, UCLA is launching a study of veterans to determine if male hormones could be the culprit.

Dr. Matthew Rettig, a UCLA professor and the chief of hematology-oncology at the VA of Greater Los Angeles, says that men have been found to suffer more severely when infected by coronavirus.

"It's not clear that they're more likely to be infected, but the severity of the illness is much greater in men than in women," Dr. Rettig said.

The problem could be the amount of male hormones like testosterone, which men naturally have in higher quantities than women.

"Male hormones actually regulate a key receptor that the virus uses to gain entry into cells, including cells that line the lungs," Dr. Rettig said. "If we can suppress male hormones, we can actually prevent the virus from getting into lung cells in the first place."

The VA has expedited the approval to conduct a double-blind study of temporary suppression in male hormones in men who are admitted to VA hospitals due to severe COVID-19 illness. Such studies typically take 10-12 months to get approved.

But it's important that people do not go out and start taking medications on their own to regulate or suppress their male hormones, he said.

"We really need to do the scientific study first and establish whether or not the drug can actually help patients with severe COVID-19," Dr. Rettig said.

Patients interested in participating in the study can contact their local VA hospital.

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