Meet 14-Year-Old Whose Innovation May Lead To A Possible Cure For COVID-19

A possible cure for the novel coronavirus may be in sight through the innovation of a 14-year-old.

Indian American, Anika Chebrolu recently won 3M’s Young Scientist Challenge after discovering a drug that could provide a treatment for the coronavirus, according to the competition’s website.

Using an in-silico methodology — an approach made through the use of a computer, according to Drug Discovery and Evaluation: Safety and Pharmacokinetic Assays — Chebrolu was able to find a molecule that can “selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” 3M said.

With her discovery, Chebrolu not only found a potential cure for COVID-19 but also won $25,000 in prize money.

“I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon,” Chebrolu told CNN.

Anika, submitted her project when she was in 8th grade — but it wasn’t always going to be focused on finding a cure for Covid-19.
Her fascination with finding virus cures developed after she was infected with the flu in 2019, 3M said.
Initially, her goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus.
“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses, and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika said.
“Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Anika said she was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the United States despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

“I have always been amazed by science experiments since my childhood and I was drawn towards finding effective cures for Influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year,” Chebrolu explained in her website profile.

“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN.
“Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”
Anika said winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honor, but her work isn’t done.
Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to “control the morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus.

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