Drug Res (Stuttg) 2021; 71(01): 4-9
DOI: 10.1055/a-1274-1264
Original Article

Tutankhamun’s Antimalarial Drug for Covid-19

Andrei P. Sommer
1   Faculty of Science, ISRA University, Amman
Horst-Dieter Försterling
2   Department of Chemistry, Philipps University Marburg, Marburg
Katlin E. Sommer
3   UWID Group, Bergische Universität, Wuppertal
› Author Affiliations


Drug repositioning is a strategy that identifies new uses of approved drugs to treat conditions different from their original purpose. Current efforts to treat Covid-19 are based on this strategy. The first drugs used in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 were antimalarial drugs. It is their mechanism of action, i. e., rise in endosomal pH, which recommends them against the new coronavirus. Disregarding their side effects, the study of their antiviral activity provides valuable hints for the choice and design of drugs against SARS-CoV-2. One prominent drug candidate is thymoquinone, an antimalarial substance contained in Nigella sativa – most likely one of the first antimalarial drugs in human history. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of articles relating thymoquinone to Covid-19 continuously increases. Here, we use it as an exemplary model drug, compare its antiviral mechanism with that of conventional antimalarial drugs and establish an irreducible parametric scheme for the identification of drugs with a potential in Covid-19.Translation into the laboratory is simple. Starting with the discovery of Nigella sativa seeds in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, we establish a physicochemical model for the interaction of thymoquinone with both coronavirus and cells. Exploiting the predictive capability of the model, we provide a generalizable scheme for the systematic choice and design of drugs for Covid-19. An unexpected offshoot of our research is that Tutankhamun could not have died of malaria, a finding contrary to the mainstream theory.

Publication History

Received: 01 September 2020

Accepted: 28 September 2020

Article published online:
30 October 2020

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