Virginia 14-year-old named top young scientist for cancer-fighting soap invention

Fairfax County freshman Heman Bekele was named "America's Top Young Scientist" for inventing a soap that aims to treat skin cancer. Here's how the soap works

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Heman Bekele, a freshman at Woodson High School in Northern Virginia, spent his summer break working to cure cancer.

He was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” for creating a bar of soap designed to fight low-grade skin cancer.

“I wanted to try to find a way for the entire world to be able to have an equitable and accessible form of skin cancer treatment,” Bekele said.

The 14-year-old calls it skin cancer-treating soap, or SCTS. for short. The soap replenishes the skin with dendritic cells, which help protect the skin and fight cancer. Bekele said that after getting a prescription, the soap can be applied to the skin every couple of days and then one will start to see progress.

Before making the soap, he reached out to University of Virginia professors to help with research. After developing the soap, Bekele entered Discovery Education’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge in St. Paul, Minnesota to compete. Out of nine students, he won the top prize of $25,000 and was named America’s Top Young Scientist.

“I’m still fully processing it. I just came out of the competition two days ago and I think, more than anything, I’m grateful, and I’m really happy to see where this project takes me,” Bekele said.

He said he hopes to take the soap to market in the next five years and start a nonprofit so it can be available to people in need.

“There’s a lot left for me to discover, but as of right now, I’m thinking of working on something in either the biomedical industry or something as an electrical engineer, so either of those fields would be really cool,” Bekele said.

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