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The winner of the 3M Young Scientist Challenge is Anika Cebrolu, who won the coronavirus discovery



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

Anika’s winning invention uses the in-silico method to detect a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus protein spike.

“In the last two days, I have seen a lot of media advertising for my project, as it includes the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic, because I, like everyone else, want to go soon. let’s get back to our normal lives, “Annika told CNN.

The coronavirus has killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide since China reported its first case to the World Health Organization (WHO) in December. According to the Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, there are more than 21
9,000 deaths in the United States.

Annika, an Indian American, presented her project when she was in 8th grade, but she would not always focus on finding a cure for Covid-19.

Initially, its purpose was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to influenza virus protein.

“After spending so much time researching pandemics, viruses and drug detection, it was crazy to think I was actually going through something like this,” Annika said.

“Because of the enormous severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it has had on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed direction to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

Annika said she was inspired to find potential cures for viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die each year in the United States despite annual vaccinations and flu drugs on the market.

“Annika has a curious mind and uses her curiosity to ask questions about the Covid-19 vaccine,” Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge at the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN.

“Her work has been comprehensive and she has looked at numerous databases. She also understands the understanding of the innovation process and is a master communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to make the world a better place gives us all hope.”

Annika performs Bharatanatyam, an ancient Indian dance.

Annika said that winning the award and the title of top young scientist is an honor, but her work is not finished.

Her next goal, she says, is to work with scientists and researchers who are fighting to “control the morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic by developing its findings into a real cure for the virus.

“My efforts to find a lead compound to bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein this summer may seem like a drop in the ocean, but it still contributes 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 this effort.”

Of course, Annika finds time to be a normal 14-year-old. When she is not in a laboratory or working for the purpose of becoming a doctor or researcher, Anika is trained in an Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam, which she has been practicing for eight years.

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