Texas: An eighth-grader Indian-American has been awarded a grand prize of USD 25,000 in the ‘3M Young Scientist Challenge’ for her attempt to find a possible cure for the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 14-year old Anika Chebrolu from Nelson Middle School in Frisco (Texas) used an in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is to be noted that the United States has been the worst coronavirus hit country across the world. It has so far reported 81,55,894 confirmed infections along with 2,19,679 deaths, as per Johns Hopkins University.

“I have always been amazed by science experiments since my childhood and I was drawn towards finding effective cures for Influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year,” youngscientistlab’s website quoted Anika as saying.  

She added, “I would like to learn more from 3M scientists to pursue my drug development and with their help, would like to conduct in-vitro and in-vivo testing of my lead drug candidate.”

When asked about her favorite invention of the last 100 years, she answered, “My favorite invention is the Internet because it allows us to explore so much with just a few clicks. I find it a treasure trove of information and it has become a valuable asset in pursuing knowledge and conducting research from anywhere and at anytime. I am amazed at how vast and profound it is and cannot imagine a world without the internet. When coupled with proper judgement and use, we can achieve so much more and I am enthused at its potential each time I use it.”

Anika who hopes to be a medical researcher and professor in 15 years told 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.”

“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,” expressed Anika.

“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 CNN.

The top 10 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalists included students from public and private schools across America and each finalist USD 1,000 and the opportunity to work virtually with a 3M scientist who will mentor them as they evolve their invention from idea to prototype. 

Anika who received the title of America’s Top Young Scientist will also get a ‘one-of-a-kind 2 day/1-night destination trip’.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University’s data shows that there has been a total of 4,00,88,893 coronavirus confirmed cases across the world with 11,14,391 people succumbing to the fatal virus.

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