14-Year-Old Virginian Develops Affordable Soap to Treat Skin Cancer, Wins Top Young Scientist Award

Hana Belay

Heman Bekele, a freshman at WT Woodson High School in Annandale, Virginia, has earned the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” in the 2023 3M Young Scientists Challenge. The remarkable 14-year-old crafted an innovative soap priced at just $0.50 per bar, which has the potential to treat skin cancer.

The ingenious product, named the Skin-Cancer Treating Soap (SCTS), combines salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin. These ingredients function as keratolytic agents, stripping away the skin’s outermost layers and stimulating an immune response to combat the disease. Patients can utilize the soap every couple of days after acquiring a prescription.

Despite his age, Bekele is not new to the world of science and innovation. Fluent in multiple programming languages, he showcases his passion for medicine, programming, and creating a positive impact on his LinkedIn profile. His drive to produce SCTS stemmed from the heart-wrenching choice many in developing countries face between exorbitantly priced cancer treatments and basic necessities for their families.

After clinching the award, Bekele was granted $25,000, which he intends to channel towards patenting his groundbreaking soap and funding his college education. With aspirations to become an electrical engineer, he dreams of spearheading technology innovations while also giving back to his community by promoting STEM education and mentoring future engineers.

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