There may be good news on both of the fronts – we’re closer to a vaccine than ever before, and a 14-year-old Indian-American scientist may have started the path for the discovery of a cure. Anika Chebrolu from Texas, USA just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge, which came with a $25,000 prize. Her invention is a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19. Anika’s winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Anika had submitted her project when she was in 8th grade – but it wasn’t initially focused on finding a cure for Covid-19.
“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 changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” she told CNN.
Anika added that 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.
The 14-year-old’s inspiration and enthusiasm for science comes from her grandfather, “My grandpa, when I was younger, he always used to push me toward science. He was actually a chemistry professor, and he used to always tell me learn the periodic table of the elements and learn all these things about science, and over time, I just grew to love it,”