14-Year-Old Girl Wins $25K for Possible COVID-19 Cure Discovery

A middle schooler might have found the lead researchers had been searching for months.
Irmak Bayrakdar

Anika Chebrolu, an eight-grader from Texas, just won this year's 3M Young Scientist Challenge and along with a $25K prize. Even though that's enough to make headlines alone, she may also have found a possible lead to treat COVID-19. 

In her project, Anika used in-silico methodology that helped her find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Inspired by 1918

After doing researches for the competition, Anika stumbled upon the 1918 flu and was then astonished by the case numbers in influenza around the world. She then decided to work on finding cures for viruses.

At first, she was looking to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus rather than SARS-CoV-2. However, with the ongoing pandemic that has had devastating effects on our health and the way we live, Anika decided to focus on working on SARS-CoV-2 along with the help of her mentor


She commented on the current situation of the world by saying "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."

More to come 

Anika also added that she's working to achieve more, now that she's onto something crucial for the sake of humanity. She has her mind set on working alongside scientists and researchers in the fight against COVID-19 by furthering her research and eventually developing her project until it evolves into an actual cure for the virus. 

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She told in an interview with CNN, "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."

With the global pandemic and economic crises all around the world, bright young minds like Anika gives us hope for future generations.

For more information on her project, watch her explain it herself below:

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