This sleep hormone may be a new treatment for COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found that melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is commonly used as an over-the-counter sleep aid, may be a viable treatment option for COVID-19.

The research was conducted by a team at Cleveland Clinic.

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, particularly with cases rising during what some have termed the “fall surge,” repurposing drugs already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for new therapeutic purposes continues to be the most efficient and cost-effective approach to treat or prevent the disease.

According to the findings, a novel artificial intelligence platform developed by the researchers to identify possible drugs for COVID-19 repurposing has found melatonin as a promising candidate.

Overall, they determined that autoimmune (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease), pulmonary (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis) and neurological (e.g., depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) diseases showed significant network proximity to SARS-CoV-2 genes/proteins and identified 34 drugs as repurposing candidates, melatonin chief among them.

Analysis of patient data from Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 registry also showed that melatonin usage was linked to a nearly 30% less risk of COVID-19.

The study provides a powerful, integrative network medicine strategy to predict disease manifestations associated with COVID-19 and facilitate the search for an effective treatment.

The team says larger observational studies and randomized controlled trials are critical to validate the clinical benefit of melatonin for patients with COVID-19.

One author of the study is Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., an assistant staff at Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute.

The study is published in PLOS Biology.

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