14-Year-Old Wins $25,000 for Developing Antiviral Drug That May Combat COVID-19

A Texas teenager was awarded tens of thousands of dollars for developing a potential cure for COVID-19.

[Oct. 16, 2020: Joshua Espinoza]

A Texas teenager was awarded tens of thousands of dollars for developing a potential cure for COVID-19.

Fourteen-year-old Anika Chebrolu, a freshman at Independence High School in Frisco, was named the winner of this year's 3M Young Scientist Challenge and received a $25,000 award. Anika said she entered the challenge while in eighth grade with the initial intention of creating a more effective treatment for influenza, but as coronavirus swept through the nation, she decided to pivot.

"I became interested in it because even with the antivirals that we have, even with the annual vaccination, even with our constant fight with the influenza virus, there's still 60,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone due to the flu," Anika said during a remote interview with NYSE's Floor Talk. "So I started my research on drug discovery and the influenza virus, and I ended up combining my knowledge of both of the subjects to create a novel antiviral drug against the flu. ... With the help of my mentor, Dr. Mahfuza Ali, I switched topics and I targeted the SARS-CoV-2 virus."

According to a press release, Anika used computer programs to see how a molecule could bind to a specific protein in the SARS COVID-2 virus and effectively inhibit the protein's function.

Floor Talk's Judy Shaw went on to ask Anika what she planned to do with the $25,000 award. The teen said she wants to use some of the money to continue her COVID-19 research and also donate to her nonprofit that provides academic support.

"A lot of kids around the world are not given the same opportunities as me, and if they were, they could accomplish so much more," she said. "So over the summer I started a nonprofit organization called Academy Aide, and I would donate some of the money that I earned from this amazing competition to Academy Aide. I would also use some of the money to continue my research and further develop my antiviral into an effective and potent drug."

You can watch Anika's full Floor Talk interview below.

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This Brighter Side of News post courtesy of Complex.

Joseph Shavit
Joseph ShavitSpace, Technology and Medical News Writer
Joseph Shavit is the head science news writer with a passion for communicating complex scientific discoveries to a broad audience. With a strong background in both science, business, product management, media leadership and entrepreneurship, Joseph possesses the unique ability to bridge the gap between business and technology, making intricate scientific concepts accessible and engaging to readers of all backgrounds.