Our hope for a COVID-19 treatment may come from the most unlikely place: a 14-year-old’s brilliant mind.
Anika Chebrolu, a Texas resident, won a $25,000 prize after developing a molecule “that can bind to a certain protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This protein by binding to it it will stop the function of the protein.”
Her work was so impressive and groundbreaking that she won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, and is being called America’s top young scientist.
Of course, her work isn’t the result of an all-nighter. Anika was already working on a way to fight the seasonal flu when news of the outbreak spread so she pivoted, hoping to stop the outbreak in its tracks.
The more stories about the effects of the pandemic she heard, the more motivated she became.
Finally, she learned how and where the molecule could bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus by using multiple computer programs.
We’ll have to see whether her findings can speed up the process of finding a treatment for COVID-19 but no matter the outcome, Anika’s breakthrough is a stepping stone in her career as a scientist. A career that she’s been leaning towards ever since her grandfather introduced her to chemistry:
“He was actually a chemistry professor, and he used to always tell me to learn the periodic table of the elements and learn all these things about science and over time I just grew to love it.”, she recalls.