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A 14-year-old student from Fairfax, Virginia, Heman Bekele, has developed an innovative soap that holds promise in the potential treatment of skin cancer. He has named his creation “Skin Cancer Treating Soap” (SCTS), and he asserts that it can be produced for just $8.50, yielding 20 bars per batch.

“People might not have the equipment or have the facilities to be able to treat this disease,” Heman told ABC News. “A bar of soap is just so simple, so affordable, so accessible in comparison to these modern new skin cancer treatments.”

Heman, who immigrated to America with his family from Ethiopia, initiated this project during his 8th-grade year, driven by the understanding that skin cancer cells tend to weaken dendritic cells in the body, thereby hindering the immune response and allowing cancer to proliferate. SCTS, according to Heman, contains specific agents that may reactivate dendritic cells, potentially aiding in the elimination of cancer cells.

His remarkable achievement earned him the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” and a $25,000 prize. This recognition came about as his innovation clinched first place in the prestigious 3M Young Scientist Challenge, an annual competition designed to empower students in grades 5 through 8 to make a positive impact on the world with their innovative ideas, as presented by the 3M Young Scientist Lab.

RELATED: Black Woman Shares Skin Cancer Survival Story: ‘Please Don’t Think It Can’t Happen To You’

Regarding the practical application of SCTS in treating skin cancer, Heman’s mentor for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, Deborah Isabelle, who is also a product engineering specialist at 3M, expressed that it holds potential. However, she emphasized that the soap would need to undergo the customary clinical trials, a process that may span between five to ten years. It’s worth noting that, as of now, Heman has not conducted physical trials. Instead, he has relied on digital molecular testing, secondary data analysis, and formulaic computations to arrive at his preliminary results.

“He is an incredibly bright, passionate and focused young man,” said Isabelle.  “Heman is both compassionate and charismatic, which are great traits for a scientist. With his curiosity and determination, I have no doubts he will change the world for the better.”


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Black Teen’s Cancer Treatment Soap Earns National Science Prize  was originally published on