Theranostics 2021; 11(2):731-753. doi:10.7150/thno.51471 This issue


COVID-19 and Cancer Comorbidity: Therapeutic Opportunities and Challenges

Anup S. Pathania1, Philip Prathipati2, Bakrudeen AA. Abdul3, Srinivas Chava1, Santharam S. Katta4, Subash C. Gupta5, Pandu R. Gangula6, Manoj K. Pandey7, Donald L. Durden8,9,10, Siddappa N. Byrareddy1,11, Kishore B. Challagundla1,12✉

1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology & The Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center; University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA.
2. Laboratory of Bioinformatics, National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, Saito-Asagi Ibaraki City, Osaka 567-0085, Japan.
3. Department of Biochemistry, Center for Research & Development, PRIST Deemed University, Vallam, Tamil Nadu 613403, India.
4. Department of Biotechnology, School of Applied Sciences, REVA University, Rukmini Knowledge Park Kattigenahalli, Yelahanka, Bangalore, Karnataka 560064, India.
5. Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India.
6. Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences and Research, School of Dentistry, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA.
7. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Camden, NJ 08103, USA.
8. Levine Cancer Institute, Atrium Health, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA.
9. Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA 92093, USA.
10. SignalRx Pharmaceuticals, Omaha, NE 68124, USA.
11. Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA.
12. The Children's Health Research Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, 68198, USA.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Pathania AS, Prathipati P, Abdul BAA, Chava S, Katta SS, Gupta SC, Gangula PR, Pandey MK, Durden DL, Byrareddy SN, Challagundla KB. COVID-19 and Cancer Comorbidity: Therapeutic Opportunities and Challenges. Theranostics 2021; 11(2):731-753. doi:10.7150/thno.51471. Available from

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Graphic abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral disease caused by a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that affects the respiratory system of infected individuals. COVID-19 spreads between humans through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The COVID-19 outbreak originated in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019. As of 29 Sept 2020, over 235 countries, areas or territories across the globe reported a total of 33,441,919 confirmed cases, and 1,003,497 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19. Individuals of all ages are at risk for infection, but in most cases disease severity is associated with age and pre-existing diseases that compromise immunity, like cancer. Numerous reports suggest that people with cancer can be at higher risk of severe illness and related deaths from COVID-19. Therefore, managing cancer care under this pandemic is challenging and requires a collaborative multidisciplinary approach for optimal care of cancer patients in hospital settings. In this comprehensive review, we discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer patients, their care, and treatment. Further, this review covers the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, genome characterization, COVID-19 pathophysiology, and associated signaling pathways in cancer, and the choice of anticancer agents as repurposed drugs for treating COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19, coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2, cancer, inflammation, comorbidity