A 14-year-old Indian origin girl, Anika Chebrolu, is among thousands of scientists vying to find the perfect COVID-19 cure. Chebrolu, who's from Frisco, Texas, is the winner of the 2020 3M Young Scientists Challenge worth $25,000. She won the award for her discovery of a method to find out a molecule that could lead to the potential therapy for coronavirus.
Chebrolu's invention is based on in-silico methodology. In this, a lead molecule selectively binds with the spike protein of COVID-19. "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," Anika told CNN.
As per the report, Chebrolu submitted the project while studying in 8th grade. Rather than focussing on COVID-19 virus, her research was initially based on finding the compound to bind a protein to influenza virus.
As the virus began to disrupt life across the world, Anika along with her mentor changed the direction of her research project to COVID-19. The inability of even developed nations to avoid deaths every year despite a number of vaccine programmes forced her to research curiously about the latest virus outbreak.
"Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for COVID-19," a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge told the news channel.
Anika's work was appreciated by judges who said she was a masterful communicator and that her work was quite comprehensive. For Anika, there's a lot to be done yet. She is now planning to work with scientists who are working tirelessly to find the vaccine against COVID-19 virus.
She said her goal is to find the main compound that binds to the spike of SARS-Cov-2 virus, which will finally determine the success of her project. The 14-year-old India origin girl is not only a lab geek but an avid Bharatanatyam dancer too. She has been practicing the classical Indian dance for the past 8 years. The coronavirus has claimed 11.8 lakh lives across the world, while affecting 4 crore people. Over 3 crore people have recovered from the virus so far.