In a remarkable feat of youthful innovation, 14-year-old Heman Bekele has crafted a soap that holds promise in the battle against skin cancer, all while keeping an eye on affordability with a price tag of less than $10. This invention, heralding from the halls of Frost Middle School in Fairfax County, propelled young Bekele to the esteemed title of America’s Top Young Scientist in the 2023 3M Young Scientists Challenge, also earning him a $25,000 grand prize.
The inception of this novel invention traced back to Bekele’s time in Ethiopia, where the sight of hardworking individuals constantly under the sun’s glare sowed the seeds of curiosity and concern regarding skin cancer. As the competition approached, Bekele channeled this concern into a mission to devise an accessible and trustworthy solution to skin cancer.
The soap, meticulously engineered over months of experimentation and aided by computer modeling, is a blend of compounds aimed at reviving dendritic cells—cells crucial in the fight against cancer but are often targeted and destroyed by cancer cells. The reinvigoration of these cells embarks on a cellular crusade against cancer cells, a mechanism that Deborah Isabelle, a 3M product engineering specialist and Bekele’s mentor, describes as reactivating the body’s intrinsic healing prowess.
Named the Skin Cancer Treating Soap, this invention stands as a symbol of hope, a beacon of accessibility in a world where the fight against skin cancer often comes with a hefty price tag. Unlike the creams traditionally used, this soap epitomises a convenient, daily-use product that aims to make skin cancer treatment a part of one’s routine, thereby expanding its reach.
This invention is not merely a testimony to Bekele’s scientific acumen but also a manifestation of his earnest desire to make a tangible difference in the global health landscape. It reflects a stirring narrative of how young, compassionate minds can traverse the realms of science and altruism, striving to create a world where health solutions are within reach for all. The story of Heman Bekele is an emblem of how the fusion of youthful curiosity, scientific rigor, and a heart geared towards humanity can herald hope and healing in the fight against menacing maladies like skin cancer.