CLEVELAND — Melatonin, a common over-the-counter supplement used as a sleep aid, could be a potential treatment option for patients with COVID-19, according to a study from Cleveland Clinic.
The study comes from the clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and focuses on the re-purposing of drugs that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for new therapeutic uses.
Researchers developed an artificial intelligence platform to compare the proximity between the host genes and proteins of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, to that of 64 other diseases across a range of disease categories.
From there, the data helped researchers find conditions with similar protein proximities to COVID-19 that already had drugs approved for treatment. Those drugs could possibly be used to treat COVID-19, the researchers said.
“That tells us that a drug that’s approved to treat those conditions may be capable of treating COVID-19 by acting on those shared biological targets,” said lead researcher Feixiong Cheng.
Researchers found 34 drugs as potential re-purposing candidates that are already being studied in COVID-19 clinical trials, and that list included melatonin, iron reducer deferoxamine and antibiotic azithromycin.
Researchers took the information from the study and combined it with data collected from nearly 27,000 patients in Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 registry. After adjusting race, age, smoking history and various disease co-morbidities, melatonin usage was associated with a 28% reduced likelihood of a positive COVID-19 test.
When researchers applied the same variables to African-Americans, the reduction likely increased to 52%, which is a promising sign as African-Americans have been hit particularly hard by the virus.
While doctors are excited about the results, there’s still a lot of research to do.
“It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean people should start taking melatonin without first consulting with their health care provider. We’re excited about these results and to study that connection more, but large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are essential to confirm what we’ve found here,” Cheng said.
According to his doctor, the president took melatonin as part of his treatment for coronavirus.
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