San Raffaele Urological Research Institute's laboratory.

MILAN — Prada Group is strengthening its commitment to scientific research and its involvement in exploring the role of science in contemporary society.

On Monday, the company revealed it is financially supporting the “Proteggimi [protect me]” project of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, which will investigate the disparity in the impact of COVID-19 on men and women, researching why it predominantly affects men and the role played by male sex hormones in this imbalance. The amount of the donation was not disclosed.

According to the latest clinical data, men account for 66 percent of the deaths from the coronavirus in Italy — which counted 26,644 deceased at press time — and they are also more likely to require treatment in intensive care, accounting for 82 percent of all admissions in the Lombardy region, one of the most affected by the COVID-19 spread. Sex hormones — especially testosterone — could provide a partial explanation of this disparity, according to researchers.

Developed and coordinated by the San Raffaele Urological Research Institute’s director Andrea Salonia, the initiative will additionally aim to assemble a European register of epidemiological data on the virus broken down by sex, also involving other research groups from Italy and across Europe.

“It is crucial to be able to examine separate data for men and women to understand whether testosterone levels are linked to the severity of the illness, and to assess any long-term impacts on the overall health of men who have recovered from the virus,” Salonia said.

The “Proteggimi” initiative follows the partnership the Italian luxury group launched in 2018 with the Fondazione Gianni Bonadonna to support innovative cancer treatments and research projects.

As reported, at that time Prada Group’s chairman Carlo Mazzi defined the project as “not merely a financial initiative, it is a social one, it’s a real participation, not as a sponsorship. We actively participate to learn and understand. We can’t give scientific help, but we can help spread the knowledge, spur interest and communicate Fondazione Bonadonna’s progress.”

Fondazione Gianni Bonadonna is named after the late Italian oncologist, who is considered a medical pioneer thanks to his Hodgkin’s disease cures and innovative therapies against cancer.

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