DeKalb, IL — As most 14-year-olds are finishing up their time in junior high, Anika Chebrolu was working on a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Middle to junior high students were asked to submit short videos describing a solution to an everyday problem for a cash prize of $25,000 as part of the 3M Young Scientists Challenge. Chebrolu, a Texan native, entered and won for her potential discovery of an antiviral drug.
Her therapy uses in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Chebrolu was inspired to create the potential treatment after battling a severe case of the flu last year, and after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic.
The media hype about her project “reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon," she said, according to CNN.
"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,” Chebrolu said.
The teen’s next goal is to learn more from scientists to pursue her drug development, and with their help would like to transform her findings into an actual cure for the virus. There are over 40 million confirmed cases globally of the coronavirus and over 1 million people have died, according to the World Health Organization.