Teen Genius Creates Skin Cancer-Fighting Soap: A Breakthrough in Affordable Treatment

Heman Bekel with his prize-winning soap. (Fairfax County Public Schools)

A 14-year-old US scientist, Heman Bekel, has claimed the top prize in the Young Scientist’s Challenge for inventing a soap aimed at aiding the body’s immune system in combating skin cancer. Inspired by memories of people working in the sun in Ethiopia, Heman’s invention delivers drugs through the skin, activating the immune system to fight cancer cells. The soap, containing imidazoquinoline, a compound already FDA-approved for treating skin conditions, incorporates lipid-based nanoparticles to ensure the medicinal components persist on the skin post-rinse.

This breakthrough could revolutionize skin cancer treatment, offering an affordable alternative to the current expensive options. Skin cancer treatments can cost up to $40,000, making accessibility a significant challenge. Heman collaborated with the University of Virginia and Georgetown University during the development process.

While still awaiting FDA certification, Heman aims to initiate human testing in the next five years. His long-term vision is to transform the project into a nonprofit organization by 2028, providing accessible and equitable skin cancer treatment globally. The soap’s innovation lies in its potential to make a lasting impact on affordable and effective skin cancer care.

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