Heman Bekele, a 14-year-old boy from the US who studies at Frost Middle School in Fairfax County, has invented a soap that could help fight skin cancer. He was named America’s Best Young Scientist after participating in the 2023 3M Young Scientists Challenge with nine other people. He also won the $25,000 grand prize, according to a report in the magazine Washington Post.
According to the ninth-grader, the soap, which would cost less than $10, would contain ingredients that could reactivate protective skin cells and give them the ability to fight cancer cells. “Seeing all the hard work pay off in the end was truly a surreal experience,” Heman told the outlet.
He said the idea came to him while living in Ethiopia, where he saw people constantly working and exposed to the sun. Although he paid no attention to it, as the competition dates approached, he remembered his time there and decided to focus his research on skin cancer. He said: “I wanted to make my idea something that was not only scientifically great, but also accessible to as many people as possible.” Heman added that he wanted his product to be as much of a “constant” in people’s lives as possible people and therefore it must be “most convenient and trustworthy”.
After the boy was selected in the top 10 category, he was paired with a mentor, Deborah Isabelle, a product development specialist at 3M. She said the teen was “focused on making the world a better place for people he hasn’t necessarily met yet” and that he could see his passion from their first meeting.
It took several months of experimentation to develop a prototype that contained a mixture of functional compounds. Heman used computer modeling to develop the formula for the soap prototype he wanted to present at the championship. The soap, called Skin Cancer Treating Soap, works by “using a compound that helps revive dendritic cells that are killed by cancer cells. Once the dendritic cells are revitalized, they can fight the cancer cells.” According to Isabelle, this “reactivates the body’s healing power” and reminds the body “how to defend itself.”
Heman points out that while there are several creams on the market, soap has never been used to treat cancer. In the presentation, he told the panel that he wanted to make the soap a “symbol of hope, accessibility and a world where skin cancer treatment is within everyone’s reach.”
Source : www.ndtv.com