Sydney – In a study published in the journal Nature Cell Discovery, scientists from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia’s Queensland developed two new drugs to both prevent SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19 infection, and also treat people who have been exposed to the virus so they do not develop severe disease. The two early intervention drugs target how human cells respond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The first peptide-based drug would be given pre-exposure to the virus and help boost the efficacy of vaccines, while the second drug would stop the spread of the virus in already infected cells. Professor Sudha Rao, head of QIMR Berghofer’s Gene Regulation and Translational Medicine Group, said: “The tag can either keep the receptor locked or open — controlling infection. This means people who have the ‘padlock-like’ tag on their ACE2 receptors will be less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and those without the tag are more vulnerable to infection. Our drugs stop the tag from being removed and also protect the untagged ACE2 receptors from being infected.” The research was conducted on Covid-19 patient blood and human cells and the drugs are now being tested in hamsters at France’s pre-clinical and clinical research facility, IDMIT.