A 14-year-old girl has made an exciting discovery that may be used to save the lives of people infected with the COVID-19 virus. So far, the pandemic has led to the deaths of over a million people around the world. 

Anika Chebrolu, a student from Frisco, Texas, has been hailed “America’s Top Young Scientist” for her discovery, which could help scientists develop a cure for the virus. 

By using computer simulations known as “in-silico,” Anika found a molecule that can bind selectively with COVID-19’s spike protein. At the time she began working on the project, her goal was to pin-point a top compound that would bind to a protein in the influenza virus, which began spreading during the 1918 flu pandemic. Little did Anika know that her project would be used in a potential cure for COVID-19. 

“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 told CNN.

Now, the teen is eager to help scientists figure out how her discovery can be used in a potential cure for COVID-19. For her discovery, Anika won a $25,000 prize from the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

“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.”

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