A 14-year-old student from Annandale, Virginia, has won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for his entry; a bar of soap designed to treat skin cancer.
Heman Bekele, a 9th grader at W.T. Woodson High School in Annandale, competed against nine other finalists for the title of "America's Top Young Scientist" over the past four months. The school children were paired with scientist mentors, who helped them develop their concept into a prototype, before being judged in a series of challenges, including a presentation of their invention.
Entries included a glove to detect epilepsy and a cost-effective electronic braille display device. Bekele won for his Melanoma Treating Soap (MTS) designed to treat the most common form of cancer in the United States.
"I made this soap by fusing regular medicinal soap with a 50/30/20 ratio of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin, which are all keratolytic agents that slowly reactivate dendritic cells," Bekele explained in his presentation. "After MTS is used the soap releases toll-like receptors into your skin. These receptors latch onto dendritic cells which reactivate them. The now reactivated dendritic cells then join with TN io12 cells to fight infected HPV cells."
Over the next five years, Bekele hopes to refine his invention and create a non-profit to distribute the low-cost soap where it is needed most. As well as the title, he will receive a $25,000 cash prize.
"I applied for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge because I believe that young minds can make a positive impact on the world," Bekele told the Young Scientist Lab. "I have always been interested in biology and technology, and this challenge gave me the perfect platform to showcase my ideas."