New Delhi: As the world struggles to find a vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic, an Indian-American teen seems to be leading the race in which nearly 200 pharmaceutical companies have thrown their hat.
Not only the World Health Organization (WHO) but also different governments and companies have been giving contradictory signals as to when a vaccine would really hit the market to eradicate the pandemic which has already claimed more than 1.1 million lives and infected over 40 million others globally.
Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old Indian-American schoolgirl from 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, CNN reported.
Her invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is better known to the people as coronavirus causing Covid-19.
“I developed this molecule that can bind to a certain protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This protein, by binding to it, will stop the function of the protein,” Anika said, according to the reports.
She had submitted her project as a Class 8 student. But that was not really going to be focused on finding a cure for Covid-19.
Like so many inventions, vaccines, and drugs discovered accidentally—X-ray, penicillin, and Viagra, to name a few–Anika’s work may well turn out the vaccine the world has been anxiously waiting for since the beginning of 2020.
“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.”
“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,” the student said humbly.
“How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts,” she added.
Anika said the spread of the pandemic, the exponential number of lives it claimed, and the suffering of the people inspired her.
Next year, she aims to be a medical researcher and professor.