While you're sitting on your couch with Cheeto dust on your fingers, wondering when the hell of 2020 will be over, just know there is a Frisco high school freshman on her way to curing 2020's deadly coronavirus.
Anika Chebrolu, a freshman at Frisco's Independence High School, won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge and earned the Improving Lives Award "for her pursuit in searching for a cure to COVID-19," according to friscoisd.org. She was named America’s Top Young Scientist because she "discovered a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2. Binding and inhibiting this viral protein would potentially stop the virus' entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target." We have zero idea what any of that means, but it sounds complicated and intelligent. Chebrolu won $25,000 for her work. How do those Cheetos taste now?
Chebrolu used "in-silico methodology for drug discovery to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an attempt to find a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic," according to the contest's website. Oh, the in-silico methodology. Why didn't they say so from the start?
Yeah, still not sure what that means, but "attempt to find a cure" is the only thing keeping us going at this point.
In an interview with the New York Stock Exchange, Chebrolu said that she began researching the influenza virus a few years ago for a school project, and she created a novel anti-viral drug against the flu. While she was entering the contest with her flu drug, she decided to switch and focus on the coronavirus when the pandemic hit.
"That's what I did this summer," Chebrolu says. "I found a novel anti-viral out of a database of millions of compounds that can effectively bind to a protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and provide a potential anti-viral against the COVID-19 pandemic."
Not only did she do that over the summer, but she also started a nonprofit called Academy Aid. She told the exchange she plans to donate part of her cash prize to the nonprofit.
On the other hand, Cheetos are delicious.
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