This Indian-American Girl’s Discovery Can Lead To The Development Of COVID-19 Drug

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oi-Shivangi Karn

on October 21, 2020

The end to COVID-19 pandemic can now be imagined with the discovery of many effective drugs, technologies and vaccine candidates. Among these, the one making news is a drug discovery by a 14-year-old Indian-American girl.

This eighth-grader girl named Anika Chebrolu from Texas has won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her discovery based on in silico methodology. According to recent news, Anika has found a molecule with the use of this technology that can selectively bind to COVID-19 spike proteins.

The work of Anita can lead to the potential development of a drug that can treat COVID-19 and may end the pandemic. Also, she has received an award of $25,000 to carry out her research further.

Mentioning her project to the media, she said that she started her work on ways to fight influenza infection after she was infected with the illness last year. However, when the COVID-19 hit, she shifted her research to the current pandemic and started the research.

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What Is In Silico Methodology?

Over the last few decades, computational or in silico methods have been applied to the development and testing of many pharmacology hypotheses. The in silico method includes databases, pharmacophores, homology models and other molecular modelling approaches. It also includes machine learning, network analysis tools, data mining and data analysis tools.

All these biological experiments are carried out in a computer or via computer simulation. These methods help in the better understanding of novel molecules and their classification. The results evaluated by using in silico method are mainly used in drug discovery.

Therefore, in silico is a name given to experimentation performed by computers alongside the two basic experimentation; in vivo and in vitro. In silico is also known as computational therapeutics and is a rapidly growing technique in which many computational models or simulations can be created to predict discoveries of some medicine or therapeutics, thus causing advancement in the medical science. [1]

What Are Spike Proteins?

Spike proteins are viral fusion protein that helps in the entry of the virus to the host’s body. A study mentions that these proteins are coated with polysaccharide molecules that used to camouflage them (hard to see) and escape their surveillance during entry to the body.

These S proteins are a key factor in infection as they mediate binding to the cell receptors and allowing fusion for the entry of the virus. Therefore, identifying the receptors to which the S proteins binds themselves for entry can help in the discovery of drug design that can effectively target these receptors and prevent the entry of COVID-19 in the body. [2]

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To Conclude

Anika Chebrolu has successfully converted her ideas to reality in a hope to end COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that this new research can open doors for many other young scientists and their discoveries towards the invasion of the pandemic.

Also, with many COVID-19 candidate vaccines on trail and Oxford’s vaccine under development, this discovery may seem like a small achievement, but it can still be considered a great effort towards the current scenario of a global pandemic.


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