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Indian-American Teen Wins USD 25,000 For Work On Potential COVID-19 Treatment

Anika Chebrolu, an Indian-American eighth grader from Texas, won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her discovery that can help find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic

Anika Chebrolu has won $25,000 for her work on a potential Covid-19 treatment
Highlights
  • Anika Chebrolu wanted to find a cure for influenza, until COVID-19 hit
  • Developed a molecule that can bind to certain protein on SARS-CoV-2: Anika
  • She was one of the 10 finalists in this year's 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Houston: A 14-year-old Indian-American girl has won a USD 25,000 young scientist challenge for a discovery that could provide a potential treatment for COVID-19. Anika Chebrolu, an eighth grader from Frisco in Texas, won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, regarded as the US’ premier middle school science competition, for her work using in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic, according to the 3M Challenge website.

3M is an American manufacturing company based in Minnesota. Ms Chebrolu decided to take part in the Young Scientist Challenge after she battled a severe influenza infection last year.

She wanted to find a cure for influenza. However, that all changed after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the website said.

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I was drawn towards finding effective cures for influenza disease after a severe bout of the infection last year, Ms Chebrolu said. 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, she said.

Ms Chebrolu was one of the 10 finalists in this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge. In addition to the prize money, she was also awarded an exclusive 3M Mentorship. As a finalist, she worked with 3M Corporate Scientist Dr Mahfuza Ali, who mentored Ms Chebrolu one-on-one throughout the summer.

Together, they transformed her idea from concept to reality. Dr Ali helped Ms Chebrolu perfect her innovation through the scientific method, and she presented her project to a judging panel of scientists and leaders.

Each finalist was evaluated on a series of challenges and the presentation of their completed innovation.

I am extremely humbled at being selected America’s Top Young Scientist as all of the finalists had amazing projects and were extremely well-rounded individuals, Ms Chebrolu said.

Also Read: From A Care Giver To A Care Seeker: Story Of A COVID Warrior Who Is Back On Frontlines After Defeating Coronavirus

“Science is the basis of life and the entire universe and we have a long way to go understand it fully,” said Ms Chebrolu, who wants to become a medical researcher and professor.

Talking to CNN, Ms Chebrolu said, 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.

Ms Chebrolu 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 US despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

Ms Chebrolu has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for COVID-19,” Dr Cindy Moss, a judge for the competition, 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, Dr Moss said.

Also Read: COVID Fighters: On Duty for 160 Days, Mumbai’s Dr Mehul Shah Shares How His Team Is Fighting The Pandemic From The Frontline

Ms Chebrolu said that winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honour, 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 told CNN. How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts, she said.

Denise Rutherford, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at 3M in his congratulatory message said that amidst the challenges of a global pandemic, quality STEM education for all has become an even more urgent need.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.) 

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World

24,00,62,413Cases
20,17,73,183Active
3,33,99,961Recovered
48,89,269Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,00,62,413 and 48,89,269 have died; 20,17,73,183 are active cases and 3,33,99,961 have recovered as on October 16, 2021 at 4:08 am.

India

3,40,53,573 15,981Cases
2,01,6322,046Active
3,33,99,961 17,861Recovered
4,51,980 166Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,53,573 confirmed cases including 4,51,980 deaths. The number of active cases is 2,01,632 and 3,33,99,961 have recovered as on October 16, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,88,429 2,149

33,379 222

64,15,316 1,898

1,39,734 29

Kerala

48,38,811 8,867

95,349 1,072

47,16,728 9,872

26,734 67

Karnataka

29,82,869 470

9,700 93

29,35,238 368

37,931 9

Tamil Nadu

26,84,641 1,245

15,238 213

26,33,534 1,442

35,869 16

Andhra Pradesh

20,59,708 586

6,453 135

20,38,960 712

14,295 9

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,014 6

133 2

16,86,984 8

22,897

West Bengal

15,79,463 451

7,513 63

15,52,997 506

18,953 8

Delhi

14,39,337 26

327 10

14,13,921 36

25,089

Odisha

10,34,276 467

4,817 73

10,21,180 535

8,279 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,624 10

197 6

9,91,857 16

13,570

Rajasthan

9,54,383 1

40 2

9,45,389 3

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,258 14

212 3

8,15,960 17

10,086

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,675 6

106 5

7,82,046 11

10,523

Haryana

7,71,049 14

116 11

7,60,884 3

10,049

Bihar

7,26,021 5

46 4

7,16,314 1

9,661

Telangana

6,68,722 104

4,056 115

6,60,730 218

3,936 1

Assam

6,05,944 97

3,458 188

5,96,547 284

5,939 1

Punjab

6,01,992 21

228 6

5,85,224 25

16,540 2

Jharkhand

3,48,415 9

130 0

3,43,150 9

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,739 10

179 4

3,36,163 6

7,397

Jammu And Kashmir

3,30,885 51

895 40

3,25,564 91

4,426

Himachal Pradesh

2,21,203 90

1,361 26

2,16,125 114

3,717 2

Goa

1,77,410 54

648 31

1,73,423 81

3,339 4

Puducherry

1,27,296 37

611 36

1,24,836 73

1,849

Manipur

1,22,545 113

1,444 0

1,19,208 109

1,893 4

Mizoram

1,11,651 932

13,316 285

97,955 1,211

380 6

Tripura

84,299 4

102 8

83,381 12

816

Meghalaya

82,815 81

893 1

80,490 79

1,432 1

Chandigarh

65,297 2

30 2

64,447 4

820

Arunachal Pradesh

54,964 6

183 19

54,501 25

280

Sikkim

31,739 17

189 35

31,159 51

391 1

Nagaland

31,547 31

228 2

30,645 32

674 1

Ladakh

20,871 4

42 2

20,621 6

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,675

3 0

10,668

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

1 1

10,313 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,641 1

9 1

7,503 2

129

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