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Ahead of the Curve

Early-Stage Discoveries: Melatonin, Nicotinamide, Ginger Extract

Good results in the lab can lead to larger human trials. Here are some of the most promising recent findings.

Melatonin helped treat Covid-19

Doctors used artificial intelligence to determine functional similarities between a number of diseases and Covid-19, then identified 34 drugs that could be repurposed as treatments for the virus.

To test further for this potential, doctors analyzed data from patients at the Cleveland Clinic, and found that melatonin was likely to be the most effective. Among all people tested for the virus, those who took melatonin were 28 percent less likely to test positive. Among African Americans, the figure jumped to 52 percent.

Reference: Public Library of Science—Biology; July, 2020, PMC7350981

Nicotinamide for vision

Inflammation helps heal, but a hyperactive inflammatory response in certain cells can trigger scar tissue. When the retina of the eye is damaged due to aging, diabetes, or injury, cells in the thin membrane that supports the retina can develop aggressive, scarring characteristics.

In the lab, doctors introduced nicotinamide into a cell culture containing these aggressive retinal membrane cells. Nicotinamide inhibited the invasive wound-healing activity, and began to reverse the development of membranes associated with scar tissue. Doctors believe nicotinamide may slow development of eye disease.

Reference 2: Stem Cell Reports; April, 2020, Vol. 14,631–47

Ginger extract relieved nerve pain

Damaged nerves sometimes overact with a painful response to a light touch or friction (mechanical) or a drop of cold water on the skin (thermal). In the lab, ginger extract relieved mechanical and thermal pain in mice given a dose of 6 mg of ginger extract per ounce of body weight, with a rapid and long-lasting effect. Ginger also reduced inflammation in spinal nerve cell samples. Doctors believe ginger extract is a potential treatment for managing nerve pain.

Reference 3: Phytomedicine; November, 2020, Vol. 78, 153307


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