The melatonin, the well-known “hormone of darkness” that induces sleep, is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which could help prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection by treat severe cases of Covid-19. This is what two clinical trials led by the La Paz University Hospital in Madrid are trying to prove.
The antioxidant properties of this hormone already have been postulated as a treatment against other coronaviruses, such as SARS-COV-1 or MERS, in studies with animal models “that support it”, explains to EFE the coordinator of the Central Unit for Clinical Research and Clinical Trials (UCICEC) of the Hospital de La Paz, Dr. Alberto Borobia.
Further, melatonin has been part of the drug cocktail with which the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been treated when he suffered from Covid-19, although it is difficult to know in what proportion it contributed to his rapid recovery. What science shows us is that it is a hormone that the body begins to release when the darkness of night arrives and travels the blood circuit to synchronize the functions of our biological clock.
But like other hormones, its production declines with age, from 35 or 40 years, and this affects sleep, inflammatory diseases and even aging, according to data from the International Melatonin Institute of the University of Granada.
One of the working hypotheses is to check whether reinforcing endogenous melatonin can help prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2 in healthy people at high risk of infection. This is the starting point of a clinical trial that wants to test 450 toilets from different Spanish hospitals if melatonin prevents infection or, in the event that it is contracted, prevents the development of a serious form of Covid-19.
A first wave of the study with 350 volunteers has already been carried out and now the second is underway with another hundred more, so efficacy results are expected by early 2021, according to researcher Alberto Borobia. It is a randomized study in which one group receives an already marketed melatonin drug (2-milligram oral Circadin indicated for insomnia) and the other group, a placebo.
This essay is challenging the do it without any funding. “The researchers are promoting it, with the selfless help of the UCICEC staff and with donations of the drugs and the placebo from the Exeltis and Liconsa laboratories,” says its coordinator.
Has already begun phase III design (the last of a clinical trial) where the efficacy will be evaluated in about 200 or 300 patients from different Spanish hospitals and it may be that, in addition to critics, it will be extended to moderate patients admitted to the ward in order to avoid their passage to the ICU.
If melatonin is preventive and / or contributes to combat Covid-19 is something that science can determine in the coming monthsBut that does not mean that melatonin supplements for insomnia from pharmacies have protective effects against the coronavirus. This is something that science has not shown.