A Texas whizkid has been awarded $25,000 — for developing what could lead to a possible COVID-19 treatment.
Anika Chebrolu, 14, of Frisco won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work creating a molecule that could cripple part of the coronavirus, KTVT reported.
“It’s exciting. I’m still trying to process everything,” she told the local station. “I developed this molecule that can bind to a certain protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. … By binding to it, it will stop the function of the protein.”
Before the pandemic, the eighth-grader had been chipping away at creating a drug to fight the seasonal flu — but her plan changed when the coronavirus crisis struck.
To come up with the treatment, she used computer programs to identify how and where the molecule would bind to the virus.
Chebrolu said she was compelled to hunt for a cure after seeing the devastating effect of the coronavirus. She praised her grandfather for inspiring her.
“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 said.
The Young Scientist Challenge is a competition put on for middle-schoolers by the companies Discovery Education and 3M.