Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old from Frisco, Texas, has just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a $25,000 prize for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19.
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.
“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 to a leading daily.“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.”
“My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she said.“How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts.”