Compared to women, men are at higher risk of experiencing a serious progression of life-threatening diseases such as cancer. A current example is COVID-19 caused by SARS CoV-2 .
Another example is the significantly increased risk of severe cancer progression for men (and this is not solely based on a higher risk lifestyle, such as higher average tobacco or alcohol use). But why?
Molecular difference: TIMP1
A research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) claims to have now discovered a molecular cause for this difference between the sexes. The team, led by Achim Krüger, at TUM’s Klinikum rechts der Isar university hospital, has specifically identified the TIMP1 protein as a factor that could explain this sex-specific difference and also improve the risk diagnosis for the clinical course of the disease. .
Based on cohorts of patients from Germany and Canada, the research team found that men, whose blood contained a higher concentration of the endogenous protein TIMP1, also had a significantly higher risk of dying from cancer.
Further analysis also showed that increased TIMP1 causes increased liver metastasis, resulting in death in pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma. As Krüger explains:
TIMP1 is not higher in all men, but the discovery of TIMP1 as a risk parameter, which can be identified in the blood, now allows doctors to identify the same group of men who are at increased risk of developing life-threatening liver metastases . Previous studies have already demonstrated the molecular context in which TIMP1 promotes liver metastasis. Relative to our current discovery, there are now new possibilities for personalized medicine with optimized diagnosis and targeted therapy options.