Indian-American teen wins $25,000 for work on potential Covid-19 cure

At a time when scientists across the globe are searching for a vaccine to treat novel coronavirus, a 14-year-old Indian-American has won a $25,000 prize for a potential treatment to COVID-19.

Anika Chebrolu, from Frisco, Texas has won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge with a reward of $25,000 for the discovery of a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the novel coronavirus. 

“The last two days, 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,” she told CNN.

The Indian American explained that she was in 8th grade when she submitted her project, but her initial aim was not focused on finding a cure for coronavirus. 

Anika initially wanted to use in-silico methods to find a lead compound that could bind to the influenza virus’s protein. 

“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 added.

She said that learning about the flu pandemic in 1918 inspired her to find the potential cure to viruses. 

Anika also felt the urge to do something related to this project after getting to know how many people die in the United States of influenza despite anti-influenza drugs and annual vaccinations.

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