14-Year-Old Girl Discovers Potential COVID-19 Treatment And Gets Awarded $25,000

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The race for a Coronavirus vaccine or a cure continues, and a 14-year-old student from Frisco, Texas, has been awarded $25,000 for her discovery that could potentially lead to a COVID-19 treatment.

Anika Chebrolu is a student at Independence High School and she’s considered one of the country’s top young scientists. She won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a discovery that could lead to a potential COVID-19 cure. Chebrolu used in-silico methodology and developed a lead molecule that can prevent the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or the coronavirus. She has since told KTVT that she’s still trying to process everything and it’s very exciting.

She explained that she developed a molecule that can bind to a certain protein on the novel coronavirus and it will stop the function of the protein. She started with a database of more than 682 million compounds.

Chebrolu, an Indian American, entered the contest while in middle school, and although she wasn’t focused on finding a cure for COVID-19 at first, she decided to look for a treatment for the disease following the global pandemic. Her initial goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein as a treatment of the influenza virus – or the flu.

Chebrolu describes herself as a typical teenager. She told CNN that it was crazy for her to think that we’re currently living through something like this after spending so much time researching about pandemics and viruses.

The teenager explained that her interest in finding potential virus cures was inspired after she learned about the 1918 flu pandemic and the number of people who pass every year of influenza.

She also noted that she got her love for the science of her grandpa, who was a chemistry professor.