Virginia Teen Invents Cost-Effective Soap for Skin Cancer Treatment, Earns Top Young Scientist Honors

In a remarkable feat of innovation, Heman Bekele, a freshman at WT Woodson High School in Annandale, Virginia, has been named “America’s Top Young Scientist” in the prestigious 2023 3M Young Scientists Challenge. This talented 14-year-old has created an affordable yet potentially life-saving product – a soap that costs only $0.50 per bar and is designed to treat skin cancer.

Dubbed the Skin-Cancer Treating Soap (SCTS), Bekele’s invention is a blend of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin. These components act as keratolytic agents that remove the outer layers of the skin and trigger an immune response to fight skin cancer. The soap, intended to be used every few days following a doctor’s prescription, offers a practical and cost-effective solution for patients.

Bekele, though young, is a seasoned participant in the science and innovation community. He is proficient in several programming languages and expresses his dedication to medicine and technology through his LinkedIn profile. His motivation for developing SCTS was spurred by the difficult decisions faced by many in developing countries, who often have to choose between expensive cancer treatments and their families’ basic needs.

With his victory in the challenge, Bekele has been awarded $25,000. He plans to use these funds to obtain a patent for his innovative soap and support his college education. Ambitious and forward-thinking, Bekele aspires to be an electrical engineer, leading advancements in technology. He is also committed to contributing to his community, with plans to promote STEM education and mentor future engineers. His groundbreaking work exemplifies the potential of young minds to make significant impacts in the world of science and healthcare.