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This 14-year-old girl won a $25K prize for a discovery that could lead to a cure for Covid-19

Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old from Frisco, Texas, has won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge -- and a $25,000 prize -- for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19. CNN affiliate KTVT has more.

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 3:10 AM
Updated: Oct 20, 2020 3:10 AM

As scientists around the world race to find a treatment for the coronavirus, a young girl among them stands out.

Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old from Frisco, Texas, has just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge -- and a $25,000 prize -- for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19.

Anika's winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

"The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon," Anika told CNN.

The coronavirus has killed more than 1.1 million people globally since China reported its first case to the World Health Organization (WHO) in December. The United States has more than 219,000 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Anika, who is Indian American, submitted her project when she was in 8th grade -- but it wasn't always going to be focused on finding a cure for Covid-19.

Initially, her goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus.

"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," Anika said.

"Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus."

Anika 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 United States despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

"Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19," Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN.

"Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope."

Anika said winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honor, but her work isn't done.

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.

"My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts," she said. "How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts."

Of course, Anika also finds time to be normal 14-year-old. When she isn't in a lab or working toward her goal of becoming a doctor or researcher, Anika trains for the Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam, which she has been practicing for eight years.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 724214

Reported Deaths: 13363
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion989071736
Lake53172962
Allen40223675
Hamilton35354408
St. Joseph35270550
Elkhart28228437
Tippecanoe22297217
Vanderburgh22231396
Porter18560304
Johnson17832376
Hendricks17098313
Clark12897191
Madison12519339
Vigo12379244
Monroe11811168
LaPorte11691210
Delaware10571185
Howard9823215
Kosciusko9347117
Hancock8204139
Bartholomew8036155
Warrick7754155
Floyd7630176
Wayne7002198
Grant6986174
Boone6652101
Morgan6529139
Dubois6139117
Marshall5954111
Dearborn577177
Cass5769105
Henry5671102
Noble555783
Jackson499672
Shelby488196
Lawrence4470120
Gibson433791
Harrison432972
Clinton426353
DeKalb423284
Montgomery423088
Whitley392739
Huntington386380
Steuben381057
Miami379165
Knox370990
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Ripley338370
Jefferson328481
White312254
Daviess294399
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Greene276085
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Scott264453
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Clay258945
Randolph239581
Washington239131
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Starke213252
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Sullivan210442
Owen195856
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Jay190429
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Pike132634
Pulaski115945
Newton106734
Brown101441
Crawford99014
Benton98114
Martin87415
Warren80515
Switzerland7808
Union70610
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1077284

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1251861392
Cuyahoga1110942107
Hamilton796611200
Montgomery511561012
Summit46842933
Lucas41780782
Butler38228580
Stark32099907
Lorain24828480
Warren24214297
Mahoning21403586
Lake20518368
Clermont19704238
Delaware18463131
Licking16373210
Fairfield16083199
Trumbull15966466
Medina15192262
Greene14991244
Clark13927297
Wood13020188
Portage12772201
Allen11564231
Richland11277198
Miami10652215
Muskingum8783132
Wayne8738210
Columbiana8735229
Pickaway8527121
Marion8494135
Tuscarawas8459243
Erie7831154
Hancock6880126
Ross6821152
Ashtabula6756169
Geauga6659148
Scioto6385101
Belmont5828167
Union569347
Lawrence5536102
Jefferson5481151
Huron5409119
Darke5333122
Sandusky5316120
Seneca5248121
Athens518058
Washington5137109
Auglaize487084
Mercer479085
Shelby466893
Knox4472110
Madison434761
Putnam4260100
Ashland420989
Fulton419869
Defiance416597
Crawford3954106
Brown391857
Logan380676
Preble378298
Clinton369861
Ottawa365779
Highland352761
Williams337075
Champaign329258
Guernsey314453
Jackson311651
Perry294250
Morrow283639
Fayette280649
Hardin269864
Henry267766
Coshocton263858
Holmes2587101
Van Wert242463
Pike237233
Adams235852
Gallia235148
Wyandot230654
Hocking214662
Carroll190947
Paulding171140
Meigs144339
Noble133437
Monroe130642
Morgan108223
Harrison107337
Vinton82015
Unassigned02
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