Cleveland Clinic: Melatonin May Be a Viable Treatment for COVID-19


Lerner Research Institute’s AI platform has identified melatonin as a promising drug candidate for repurposing in COVID-19 treatment.

New findings published in PLOS Biology use “big data” approach.

Results from a new Cleveland Clinic-led study suggest 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.

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 published today in PLOS Biology, a novel artificial intelligence platform developed by Lerner Research Institute researchers to identify possible drugs for COVID-19 repurposing has revealed melatonin as a promising candidate.

Analysis of patient data from Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 registry also revealed that melatonin usage was associated with a nearly 30 percent reduced likelihood of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) after adjusting for age, race, smoking history, and various disease comorbidities. Notably, the reduced likelihood of testing positive for the virus increased from 30 to 52 percent for African Americans when adjusted for the same variables.

“It is very important to note these findings do not suggest people should start to take melatonin without consulting their physician,” said Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., assistant staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and lead author on the study. “Large-scale observational studies and randomized controlled trials are critical to validate the clinical benefit of melatonin for patients with COVID-19, but we are excited about the associations put forth in this study and the opportunity to further explore them.”

Here, the researchers harnessed network medicine methodologies and large-scale electronic health records from Cleveland Clinic patients to identify clinical manifestations and pathologies common between COVID-19 and other diseases. Specifically, they measured the proximity between host genes/proteins and those well-associated with 64 other diseases across several disease categories (malignant cancer and autoimmune, cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological and pulmonary diseases), where closer proximity indicates a higher likelihood of pathological associations between the diseases.

They found, for example, that proteins associated with respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis, two main causes of death in patients with severe COVID-19, were highly connected with multiple SARS-CoV-2 proteins. “This signals to us, then,” explained Dr. Cheng, “that a drug already approved to treat these respiratory conditions may have some utility in also treating COVID-19 by acting on those shared biological targets.”

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.

“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,” 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 an effective treatment.”

Reference: “A network medicine approach to investigation and population-based validation of disease manifestations and drug repurposing for COVID-19” by Yadi Zhou, Yuan Hou, Jiayu Shen, Reena Mehra, Asha Kallianpur, Daniel A. Culver, Michaela U. Gack, Samar Farha, Joe Zein, Suzy Comhair, Claudio Fiocchi, Thaddeus Stappenbeck, Timothy Chan, Charis Eng, Jae U. Jung, Lara Jehi, Serpil Erzurum and Feixiong Cheng, 6 November 2020, PLOS Biology.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000970

Yadi Zhou, Ph.D., a data scientist, and Yuan Hou, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow, both members of the Cheng lab, are co-first authors of this study, which was supported in part by the National Institute on Aging and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, both parts of the National Institutes of Health.

Serpil Erzurum, M.D., chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute; Lara Jehi, M.D., chief research information officer at Cleveland Clinic and leader of the Cleveland Clinic COVID-19 Registry; Reena Mehra, M.D,. director of sleep disorders research, Neurologic Institute at Cleveland Clinic; and Charis Eng, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute, are co-authors of this study.

4 Comments on "Cleveland Clinic: Melatonin May Be a Viable Treatment for COVID-19"

    WOW! in the November 9 issue of SciTechDaily in the health news section is an interesting article about coronavirus. Everyone says if it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk then it must be a skunk! Coronavirus has shown that it needs swift passage throughout the body in order for it to multiply enough to make someone seriously sick. Also another characteristic trait of coronavirus is that it multiplies faster and deadlier in older people, diabetic people, overweight people and people with certain bad health conditions. So perhaps if we slow down the bodies blood flow to as much as we can somehow with drugs like melatonin or even coma induce seriously ill patients then maybe the body can survive better because of less multiplying of the coronavirus going on in their body. Then perhaps if we flush out their digestive system somehow then perhaps we will be flushing out the coronavirus that is in the digestive system. Then perhaps the body would have less coronavirus in the body which will help the body to recover. Then if we were to give the body a high potency multivitamin with minerals and a extremely high protein meal that has all of the 9 amino acids to make a human protein cell of any kind then perhaps that biological computer in your mind called a brain can figure out how to assemble a protein that will fight off the coronavirus! Why not try what I just said? What have you got to lose by trying. In trying you may find the way to beat the coronavirus. Obviously the coronavirus doesn’t affect everyone the same. What makes the coronavirus do what it does says a lot about what it is. It’ a molecule that requires certain conditions to be able to grow to a point where it can harm people. Just as it spreads one molecule at a time outside the body it multiplies one molecule at a time in the body. Somehow most people’s body’s has a way to make the coronavirus affect them in a not so serious way. Very young children seem to not get seriously ill. So a healthy body will fight off the coronavirus somehow. We just have to quickly readjust the body’s biological mechanisms and nutrients so that the blood flow is slow, the digestive system is emptied and the body refilled with a protein rich meals supplemented with extra strength multivitamin with minerals. A protein rich recipe like Adelynn’s Miracle Beans recipe that is posted on the internet, will give the body in massive quantities all the 9 essential amino acids so that the body can make a protein cell of any kind. Also seeing that copper has a way of killing the coronavirus outside the body why not also give those with coronavirus as high as a supplemental pill with copper as we can along with the vitamin pill and just maybe that biological computer in our head called a brain can have all the ammunition it needs to effectively fight of the coronavirus enough so that it doesn’t cause serious harm to most people.

  2. There is no harm in trying

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