IOR study reveals how breast cancer therapy may be effective against COVID-19

The so-called “Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)” treatments used in breast cancer therapy may be effective against COVID-19.

A study conducted by the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR, affiliated to USI) based on data obtained from the Veneto Tumor Registry (Italy) has observed a lower risk of developing the coronavirus disease for women affected by hormonal-driven cancers subjected to this type of therapy.

The study, performed in collaboration with the VIMM-University of Padova, the Veneto Tumor Registry and led by Arianna Calcinotto, group leader at IOR, investigates a suggested off-target effect of SERMs during SARS-CoV-2 infection, identifying a possible clinical use for this class of drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The study published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology included 51,060 women tested for COVID-19 infection in the Veneto Region during the first epidemic wave.

According to Arianna Calcinotto, “patients affected by hormonal-driven cancers receiving SERMs appear to be partially protected from COVID-19 infections. The results obtained – although they require to be further validated in a larger cohort of patients and molecular studies are need to shed light on the mechanism of action – identify a new and possible way to prevent or mitigate the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 infection”.


Title: “Clinical outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection in breast and ovarian cancer patients underwent anti-estrogenic therapy” – «Annals of Oncology» – 2021

Authors M. Montopoli, M. Zorzi, V. Cocetta, T. Prayer-Galetti, S. Guzzinati, E. Bovo, M. Rugge & A. Calcinotto