A Texas high school student has been awarded $25,000 after winning the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her development of a potential COVID-19 treatment. Anika Chebrolu, a student at Independence High School in Frisco, is now considered America’s top young scientist for her incredible work, which is impressive for anyone of any age, let alone a 14-year-old!
- What Anika has achieved is amazing. “I developed this molecule that can bind to a certain protein on the SARS COVID-2 virus. This protein, by binding to it, it will stop the function of the protein… I started with a database of over 682 million compounds,” she explained of her work to CBS News.
- Software tools aided her in her work. In order to go through such a huge database, she used special software to screen “small molecules for drug-likeness properties, ADMET properties, and binding affinities against the spike protein.” I don’t understand that at all, but I’m still in awe of it!
- Anika is incredibly excited about her win. “It’s exciting. I’m still trying to process everything,” she said. I bet! Imagine knowing enough about science to develop something so incredible at only 14. She’s going to change the world!
- Of course, she had a little help along the way. Given that “binding and inhibiting this viral protein would potentially stop the virus entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target,” it’s safe to say that Anika was onto a pretty massive project. Because of this, 3m corporate scientist Dr. Mahfuza Ali was assigned to mentor her throughout her work and help her translate it into a physical prototype.
- Anika was inspired throughout her life to do something big. “My grandpa, when I was younger, he always used to push me toward science. He was actually a chemistry professor, and he used to always tell me learn the periodic table of the elements and learn all these things about science and over time I just grew to love it,” she explained. Here’s hoping what she’s created here can be developed into some real-world usage!