(ORDO NEWS) — Anika Cherbolu received a scientific prize for her work.
Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old Texas resident, won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a $ 25,000 prize for a discovery that could help find a cure for coronavirus infection.
Anika used the in silico method – a computer screening of millions of tiny molecules – and isolated one among the molecules that binds the spike proteins in the SARS-CoV-2 virus and prevents it from entering human cells.
Chebrolu began studying viruses even before the pandemic, but then her efforts were focused on the flu.
“Due to the enormous severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic impact it has had on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed the direction of research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” – Anika Cerbolu.
Anika ran many compounds through iterative computer screening to assess their binding capacity, molecular structure, and drug characteristics, such as how they would degrade in the human body and whether they might be toxic to cells.
Chebrolu started with a database of 698 million chemical compounds. Each screening narrowed her search until she was left with one leading compound that could bind to the coronavirus and prevent it from infecting cells.
In addition to her award-winning coronavirus research, Chebrolu also conducted influenza research that she originally submitted for the competition.
“I was attracted to the search for effective flu cures after a severe bout of infection last year. From the initial 3 million compounds, I was able to narrow it down to one potential drug candidate that selectively binds and inhibits the influenza virus,”Chebrolu said.
She stated that she intends to work with scientists to turn her discoveries into real medicines. The in silico method is playing an increasing role in the discovery of new drugs. Computational techniques like these can also reduce the number of medical tests on animals.
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