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Meet Anika Chebrolu, Indian-American teen who won 25,000 USD challenge for work on potential COVID

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Houston, Oct 19: A 14-year-old Indian-American teen from Texas has been awarded the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge, regarded as the US' premier middle school science competition, and a $25,000 prize for her research that could provide a potential therapy to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Meet Anika Chebrolu, Indian-American teen who won 25,000 USD challenge for work on potential COVID

Anika Chebrolu, an eighth grader from Texas's Frisco, has developed a molecule that can bind to a certain protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and prevent it from functioning. As per the 3M Challenge website, Anika Chebrolu's invention uses in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the deadly virus in an attempt to find a cure for the pandemic.

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Anika used 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.

"I was drawn towards finding effective cures for influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year," Chebrolu said as quoted by news agency PTI.

"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," she said.

Chebrolu decided to take part in the Young Scientist Challenge after she battled a severe influenza infection last year. She wanted to find a cure for influenza. However, that all changed after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the website said.

I was drawn towards finding effective cures for influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year, Chebrolu said.

Chebrolu was one of the 10 finalists in this year's 3M Young Scientist Challenge. In addition to the prize money, she was also awarded an exclusive 3M Mentorship.

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Chebrolu said she was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the US despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

Chebrolu said that winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honour, but she is not done yet.

Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to "control the morbidity and mortality" of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus.

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