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An Over-the-Counter Sleep Aid May Help Prevent and Treat COVID-19


The results of a new study suggest that a hormone commonly used as an over-the-counter sleep aid may be a viable treatment option for COVID-19.

Particularly with the increase in coronavirus cases during what some have called the “surge,” reusing drugs already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for new therapeutic purposes remains the most efficient approach and cost effective to treat or prevent disease.

According to the findings of the Cleveland Clinic, published in PLOS Biology, a new artificial intelligence platform developed to identify potential drugs for COVID-19 reuse has revealed that melatonin is a promising candidate.

Analysis of patient data from their COVID-19 registry also revealed that melatonin use was associated with a nearly 30 percent reduced chance of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) after adjusting for age, race, and smoking. medical history and various concomitant diseases.

In particular, the reduced probability of testing positive for the virus increased from 30 percent to 52 percent for African Americans when adjusted for the same variables.

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“It is very important to note that these findings do not suggest that people should start taking melatonin without consulting their doctor.” said Feixiong Cheng, PhD, assistant staff at the Institute of Genomic Medicine and lead author of the study. “Large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are critical to validating the clinical benefit of melatonin for COVID-19 patients, but we are excited about the associations presented in this study and the opportunity to explore them further.”

Here, the researchers leveraged the methodologies of networked medicine and large-scale electronic medical records of patients from the Cleveland Clinic to identify common clinical manifestations and pathologies between COVID-19 and other diseases.

Specifically, they measured the proximity between SARS-CoV-2 host genes / proteins and those well associated with 64 other diseases in various disease categories (malignant cancer and autoimmune, cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological and pulmonary diseases), where a proximity closer indicates a higher probability of pathological associations between diseases.

They found, for example, than proteins associated with respiratory distress The syndrome and sepsis, two leading causes of death in severe COVID-19 patients, were closely related to multiple SARS-CoV-2 proteins. “This tells us, then,” explained Dr. Cheng, “that a drug already approved to treat these respiratory conditions may have some use in treating COVID-19 as well by acting on these shared biological targets.”

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In general, they determined that autoimmune (eg, inflammatory bowel disease), pulmonary (eg, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis) and neurological (eg, depression and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity) showed significant network proximity to the SARS-CoV-2 genes / proteins and identified 34 drugs as reuse candidates, including melatonin.

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“Recent studies suggest that COVID-19 is a systematic disease that affects multiple types of cells, tissues, and organs, so understanding the complex interactions between the virus and other diseases is key to understanding complications related to COVID-19. and identify reusable drugs, “said Dr. Cheng. “Our study provides a powerful integrative network medicine strategy to predict disease manifestations associated with COVID-19 and facilitate the search for effective treatment.”

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

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