Today’s Solutions: November 29, 2021

Scientists working on a cure for COVID-19 have recently been delighted by the contributions of a 14-year-old girl from Frisco, Texas, who made a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to the virus.

Anika Chebrolu, an eighth-grader, was recently awarded the 2020 3M Young Scientists Challenge — and a $25,000 prize — for her invention which uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“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 said to CNN.

Initially, when the eighth-grader submitted her project, her goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus. She quickly changed directions to target the COVID-19 virus after seeing the immense severity of the pandemic and how fast it has been spreading across the world.

“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN. “Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”

While happy and honored for receiving the prize, Anika says that her work isn’t done. The young girl now plans to work alongside virologists and pharmacists, who are fighting to stop the pandemic, to develop her findings into an actual cure for the coronavirus.

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