A COVID-19 cure is vexing scientists around the globe, but the latest idea to beat it comes not from Big Pharma or top-tier university labs.
It originated in middle school.
Anika Chebrolu, 14, of Frisco, Texas, has won this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work finding a molecule that can selectively bind to the virus’s spike protein, according to the contest organizers. The eight grader used in-silico methodology for drug discovery to do it.
Chebrolu gets a $25,000 prize now, but who knows what other prizes are coming her way if this helps uncover a new therapy for COVID-19.
While that’s a windfall for someone who can’t legally drive, it’s nothing to a major drug maker. For example, one estimate has Gilead making $9 billion on Remdesivir this year and next.
“I have always been amazed by science experiments since my childhood and I was drawn towards finding effective cures for Influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year,” she says, explaining why she entered the 13th annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge. “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.”
The aspiring medical researcher and professor attends Nelson Middle School.
Around the world, close to 40.5 million people have contracted COVID-19 and more than 1.1 million have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s most recent data.