Researchers identify melatonin as a potential COVID-19 treatment


key takeaways

  • Melatonin reduces the chances of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by about 30%.
  • Researchers may discover a previously approved drug for the treatment of COVID-19 that they can “repurpose”.
  • The mechanism behind why melatonin may help is unclear.

It is easy to forget that COVID-19 is still a relatively new virus. And, with this, scientists are still trying to find ways to treat it. Now, a new study suggests that a possible treatment for the virus can be found at your local pharmacy: normal sleep aid melatonin.

The November study, which was published in the journal PLOS Biology, Analyzed patient data from the Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 registry.Researchers discovered that the use of melatonin was associated with a nearly 30% lower likelihood of testing for the virus of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, scientists noted age, race, smoking history and comorbitities. After adjusting for. The numbers were higher among people in some groups: African-Americans were 52% less likely to test positive, while those with diabetes had a 48% lower risk.

The researchers then analyzed large-scale electronic health records from patients at the Cleveland Clinic to ascertain the similarities between COVID-19 and other diseases. They specifically measured the proximity between host genes and proteins, and which are associated with 64 other diseases across multiple cancer categories, including malignant cancers and autoimmune, cardiac, metabolic, neurological, and pulmonary diseases, finding similarities. Let’s try.

Researchers found that respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis-associated proteins, which are the two main causes of death in patients with severe COVID-19, had associations with several SARS-CoV-2 proteins. It suggested that a drug that has already been developed to help treat those conditions may also help with COVID-19.

As a whole, researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 genes and proteins had the greatest proximity in autoimmune, pulmonary, and neurological diseases. He flagged off 34 drugs for possible “resurgence” use – which insists on using them for a reason outside of their original intended use. Melatonin was the top contender.

Feixiong Cheng, PhD, co-author of the study of support staff at the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute, tells Wenwell that he and his colleagues decided to study it because “no FDA-approved for patients with early COVID-19 Not effective drugs. ” And, he says, it may be a while until this happens. “Traditional de novo drug discovery is expensive and we have to wait a long time from 10 to 15 years.”

This is why the team is interested in a drug or supplement “normally already available”. “Drug repurchases will significantly reduce costs and time for the emerging COVID-19 epidemic compared to traditional drug discovery approaches,” he says.

What does it mean to you

Melatonin is a readily available over-the-counter supplement. If more research suggests that it is effective against COVID-19, it may be an easily accessible treatment. Talk to your doctor before deciding to include melatonin supplements in your routine.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces in response to darkness that also helps regulate your circadian rhythm (i.e. your sleep cycle) according to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

Melatonin is also available as a dietary supplement and, according to NCCIH, may help with the following issues:

  • jet lag
  • Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)
  • Sleep sickness in some children
  • Anxiety before and after surgery

While melatonin is often used for the treatment of sleep and anxiety issues, NCCIH states that it may play other roles in the body. However, those roles are still being researched.

How melatonin can counter COVID-19

Cheng suggests that melatonin may actually exert a protective effect against SARS-CoV-2, specifically increasing tolerance in the body.

Cheng says, “By increasing the body’s tolerance, damage to tissue and organs can be reduced” and allows the host to survive long enough to develop an adaptive immune response. As a result, your body may eventually be able to target and remove the virus from your body, he says.

Still, Cheng says, this is not certain. “There are several potential mechanisms of melatonin in the treatment of COVID-19, and our group is actively investigating it using cell-based and pre-clinical models,” he says.

Jamvel Allen, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, who did not work on the study, explains that something may be completely different. “It is possible that those who use melatonin are the same as those who are living at home – and have a job and a means of living at home for childcare – and are creating social distance,” she says . “There are several possible explanations.”

Overall, says Cheng, the effectiveness of melatonin in COVID-19 patients has to be determined by randomized controlled trials. “We hope that we will get some good news from ongoing trials, yet our large-scale patient data analysis and networked medical findings support the potential treatment potential for melatonin in COVID-19 patients,” he says. “Importantly, the cost of melatonin is much lower than other drugs under the ongoing COVID-19 trials, which would be great for fighting the epidemic by accessing the general population.”

There are currently seven ongoing trials to test melatonin as a potential treatment for COVID-19, Cheng says.

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