The Anika invention uses the in-silico method to detect a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus adhesion protein.
“The last two days I’ve seen that there’s a lot of media buzz in my project because it includes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic because I, like everyone else, want us let’s go back to our normal life soon, “Anika told CNN.
Anika, an Native American, submitted her project when she was in 8th grade, but it wasn’t always focused on finding a cure for Covid-19.
Initially, its purpose was to use in-silico methods to detect a lead compound that could bind to influenza virus protein.
“Having spent so much time researching pandemics, viruses and drug detection, it was crazy to think I was actually going through something like this,” Anika said.
“Because of 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, have changed the direction of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about the Covid-19 vaccine,” Dr. Cindy Moss, a judge at the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN.
“Her work has been comprehensive and has studied numerous databases. She has also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a master communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”
Anika said that it was an honor to win the award and the title of the best young scientist, but her work is not finished.
Her next goal, she said, is to work with scientists and researchers fighting to “control morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic, developing its findings for the actual treatment of the virus.
“My attempts to find a lead compound that would bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus adhesion protein this summer may seem like a drop in the ocean, but it still adds to all that effort,” she said. “How the further development of this molecule with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of this effort.”