14-year-old Anika Chebrolu wins $25,000 for potential COVID-19 treatment option

Indian-American Teenager Anika Chebrolu has developed a molecule that binds to a protein within the virus, inhibiting its function.

14-year-old Anika Chebrolu wins $25,000 for potential COVID-19 treatment option

Tuesday October 20, 2020,

2 min Read

In a proud moment for India, a 14-year-old girl from Frisco, Texas is closer to the finish line in the race to find a cure for the coronavirus.

Indian-American Anika Chebrolu has won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a cash award of $25,000 for her discovery, a possible therapy to treat COVID-19. Anika developed a molecule that has the potential to bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, and inhibit its functioning.

"I developed this molecule that can bind to a certain protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This protein by binding to it will stop the function of the protein," Anika told ABC News.

The virus that has claimed more than 1.1 million lives globally is seeing the highest number of cases in the US and in India. Thus, it has become imperative to find a solution to this pandemic.

Anika actually started working on this project much before the virus hit the public. It was focussed on finding a way to fight the seasonal flu. This project took a turn at the outset of the pandemic.

Anika Chebrolu

Anika Chebrolu (Image: Twitter)

To find a potential treatment for the highly infectious virus, Anika used multiple computer programs to identify how and where the molecule could bind to the virus. However, it is still not clear whether her tests were conducted on functional cells or a live model.

"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. How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts,” Anika told CNN.

Anika hopes to become a medical professional one day. She credits her deep love and passion for science to her grandfather.

"My grandpa, when I was younger, always pushed me toward science. He was actually a chemistry professor, and asked me to learn the periodic table, and other scientific information and over time I just grew to love it," she added.

Do you have an interesting story to share? Please write to us at [email protected]. To stay updated with more positive news, please connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan