Thymoquinone: shield and sword against SARS-CoV-2

Friday 05 June 2020

The article Thymoquinone: shield and sword against SARS-CoV-2 by Dr. Andrei P. Sommer, Prof. Horst-Dieter Försterling and Prof. Kurt G. Naber recommends the compound Thymoquinone (TQ) for the treatment of infections with SARS-CoV-2. The justification to use the compound against SARS-CoV-2 is derived from the mechanism by which TQ simultaneously protects the cells from being infected by the virus and kills the virus. The natural compound TQ is contained in black cumin oil. Black cumin (Nigella sativa) is a herb native to North Africa. It is an ingredient frequently used in the Mediterranean cuisine. Moreover, the synergy between the antiviral, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of TQ is complemented by a broad antibacterial spectrum – all relevant in the pathology of Covid-19.

The current clinical attempts to treat Covid-19 focus primarily on a limited arsenal of drugs designed against infections with Malaria, Ebola virus, HIV, etc. It is a desperate race against time. The situation can be compared to that of a pilot who has to do an emergency flight to a certain city. Unfortunately, the pilot has only a map for an airport located off the route. So he tries to reach his destination by the use of the map which is available, but in fact, has no chance to arrive.

In some cases co-administration of supplements that support the immune system, such as vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc and selenium showed better tolerance of the antiviral drugs. In contrast, TQ does not need the supplementation with compounds that support the immune system because it automatically strengthens the immune system, as emphasized in several publications cited in the article.

The team was surprised by the finding that the antiviral mechanism of TQ is similar to that described for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, the antimalarial drugs previously recommended for Covid-19, however void the adverse effects reported for the latter. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided emergency authorization for the use of the antimalarial drugs. However, in a Safety Announcement [04-24-2020] it declared that these drugs have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. In fact, not one of the antiviral drugs considered by the FDA has such a broad antiviral spectrum as that of thymoquinone, as reflected by the literature provided in the article. This aspect, together with the immunoprotective potential of TQ, justifies the expectation that TQ has the chance to take the lead within the currently available arsenal of antiviral compounds against SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Sommer’s case report (included in the article) was the motivation of the team to start this study. Importantly, the antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory potential of TQ is entirely unknown to Western medicine, but it is highly praised, and already used in China, the Indian Subcontinent, West Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa against the novel coronavirus. The data presented in the article, published in Precision Nanomedicine (prnano), the official journal of the European Foundation for Nanomedicine (CLINAM), hold the promise to prevent and treat Covid-19, thereby potentially to save lives. The intention of the article was (1) to bring TQ to the attention of experts in Western countries, in general, and (2) to initiate the development of nanomedicines suitable for the targeted delivery of the compound to organs attacked by SARS-CoV-2, specifically to the lungs.

By converting TQ into hitherto unprecedented forms, i.e., nanomedicines, and then directing these in highly effective fashions against viral and bacterial targets associated with Covid-19 would end the social distancing era and commence a period of assured survival on terms favorable to the World. For this a clinical study comprising three checkpoints is necessary: (I) Test of the effect of black cumin oil in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, (II) development of nanomedicines suitable for the delivery of TQ or of extracts of the oil to the infected organs and (III) tests of the protective potential of intranasal applications of black cumin oil.


 Link to the article:

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