Understanding the Relationship Between TMPRSS2 and COVID-19

Stop COVID-19

You may have heard about an unfamiliar sounding thing called TMPRSS2 lately either from our posts or in the general zeitgeist of COVID-19 news. We understand the knee-jerk reaction to disregard things that aren’t familiar, but understanding the relationship between TMPRSS2, ACE2 (another protein), and COVID-19 is important, exciting, and not too difficult when broken down.

Here is your definitive guide to the relationship between TMPRSS2 and COVID-19:

Put simply, TMPRSS2 is like a door handle that lets COVID-19 into your lungs. PCF is actively working on clinical trials for two different classes of anti-COVID-19 drugs: one will make the door handles fall off, and one will make the door handles impossible to turn. Either way, the outcome is the same: COVID-19 will no longer be able to get into the lungs and this will stop COVID-19 from turning deadly.

Relationship Between TMPRSS2 and COVID-19 comic

Sounds great right? So what are we doing about it?

Over the last 20 years, PCF has funded millions of dollars of research into TMPRSS2 and prostate cancer; thanks to this foundational research, we know TMPRSS2 could potentially be a drug target for COVID-19. PCF’s Prostate Cancer Research Enterprise is applying our body of knowledge about TMPRSS2 to the solve the COVID-19 problem.

Thus far, we have invested over $5 million in the study of TMPRSS2. Without this foundational work, we wouldn’t know what we know today – and we wouldn’t be nearly as close to a solution.  Prior to this, PCF had funded work on TMPRSS2 at UCLA, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Michigan. PCF lead investigators in TMPRSS2 R&D from 1999 to the present include: Arul Chinnaiyan, Peter Nelson, Leroy Hood, Matt Rettig, and Charles Ryan.

PCF has now organized and funded a multi-disciplinary research community to tackle this problem, including over 400 pulmonologists, cancer researchers, infections disease experts, and experts in critical care.  TMPRSS2 may also play a role in African American disparities, as well as gender disparities, and this is also an active area of research for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

For more information visit our COVID-19 resources page.

About Aaron Gomez

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Aaron Gomez is the Video and Content Producer for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Aaron writes and produces weekly blogs and original videos that work to inform and inspire.