According to an AI platform developed by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, the hormone that helps regulate sleep—melatonin—may be a novel treatment for COVID-19.
The finding that the OTC sleep aid might be of help came as the researchers were seeking to identify previously approved drugs for repurposing in the fight against the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Using network medicine methodologies and data from the electronic health records of Cleveland Clinic patients, the researchers were able to identify common clinical manifestations and pathologies between SARS-CoV-2 host genes/proteins and those well-associated with 64 other diseases (eg, cancer and autoimmune, cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological and pulmonary diseases), where closer proximity indicates a higher likelihood of pathological associations between the diseases.
Among their findings: the proteins linked with respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis (2 causes of death in COVID-19 patients) were highly connected with several SARS-CoV-2 proteins. Translation: drugs already approved to treat such conditions may be viable candidates for COVID-19 because they share biological targets.
All-in-all they identified 34 drugs as potentials for repurposing including some of those used to treat autoimmune (eg, inflammatory bowel disease), pulmonary (eg, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis) and neurological (eg, depression and ADHD) diseases.
“Recent studies suggest that COVID-19 is a systematic disease impacting multiple cell types, tissues and organs, so knowledge of the complex interplays between the virus and other diseases is key to understanding COVID-19-related complications and identifying repurposable drugs,” Feixiong Cheng, PhD, assistant staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and lead author on the study told Consult QD. “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.”
Source: Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Melatonin a Promising Candidate for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19. Consult QD. Nov. 13, 2020. Available at https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/melatonin-a-promising-candidate-for-prevention-and-treatment-of-covid-19/. Accessed Jan. 5, 2021.