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America's top young scientist creates soap that fights skin cancer

Posted at 10:34 PM, Oct 18, 2023

A 14-year-old who developed a skin cancer treating soap is now America's Top Young Scientist of the Year.

Heman Bekele is taking home $25,000 dollars from the national middle school competition hosted by 3M and Discovery Education.

"The final product that it is, it can actually help remove skin cancer altogether," Bekele said. "After doing more research, I found out that cancer cells can't really be killed. It's using your internal resources, reviving them to help fight against the cancer cells within your body. So what's happening is these cells called dendritic cells, are being reawoken, revived, after being killed by skin cancer."

Then those cells help to fight the cancer.

Bekele says reversing the damaging effects of skin cancer isn't something new, but what makes his bar of soap stand out is how accessible it is.

"I know that the average price of skin cancer treatment in the U.S. alone is almost $40,000, but my bar of soap only costs $8.50 to create, and it can replicate the same effects as something that people would pay thousands and thousands of dollars to try to get," Bekele said.

Bekele says he was inspired to create this soap due to lack of access in Ethiopia where his family is from.

He hopes to turn his passion project into a nonprofit organization by 2028 so he can impact people all over the world.