Up until now, remdesivir is the only approved drug for COVID-19 treatment and favipiravir has received emergency use authorisation. Many other drugs are in various stages of research. As the number of fresh cases rises again in several parts of the world, scientists continue to work towards finding more preexisting and preapproved drugs to treat and manage the coronavirus infection.
Latest in this series, a group of researchers at the Cleveland Clinic claim that melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle in humans, may be effective in the management of COVID-19 .
The findings of their study are published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Biology.
For the research, the scientists studied the genes and proteins of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 , using an artificial intelligence system developed by Lerner Research Institute.
They also identified clinical records from patients at the Cleveland clinic to check for similarities in host genes and proteins between COVID-19 and other diseases including autoimmune diseases, cancer, pulmonary, and neurological and metabolic diseases. The closer the genes, the similar the pathology of the two diseases.
Additionally, the researchers listed about 3,000 FDA approved drugs for their potential use in SARS-CoV-2 treatment.
Here are some of the findings of the study:
- Proteins associated with sepsis and respiratory distress syndrome, two life-threatening conditions associated with COVID-19 , were closely related to several SARS-CoV-2 proteins.
- Autoimmune diseases like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), neurological diseases like depression, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and pulmonary fibrosis also had significant similarities in their genes and proteins with SARS-CoV-2.
The authors of the study indicated that any medicines used for the treatment of the above conditions can also be used to manage COVID-19 . Out of the 3,000 drugs studied, they found 34 drug candidates could potentially treat the condition, melatonin being the chief candidate amongst them.
Melatonin use was found to be associated with reduced pulmonary inflammation due to a reduction in the levels of certain cytokines and an increase in the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Clinical registries from Cleveland Clinic also showed that regular use of melatonin was associated with a 30 percent lesser chance of testing positive for COVID-19 even after adjusting for age, smoking history, race, and the presence of comorbidities.
However, the authors pointed out that this does not mean you start taking melatonin without consulting your doctor.
Explaining the importance of the findings, Dr Cheng, lead author of the study said in a news release by the Cleveland Clinic, “Our study provides a powerful, integrative network medicine strategy to predict disease manifestations associated with COVID-19 and facilitate the search for an effective treatment.”
However, the authors added that large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are still needed to confirm the findings of the study.
For more information, read our article on COVID-19.
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