Heman Bekele, 14, is a ninth grader at W.T. Woodson High School in Annandale, Va., who just created a new treatment for cancer.

As part of the annual 3m young scientist challenge, Bekele developed Melanoma Treating Soap. It won him the competition and also a cash voucher of $25,000 in St. Paul this month.

Bekele told MPR news that he had soon developed interest in science and wanted to grow in it as a part of his passion.

For one hour each Friday in elementary school, Bekele had free time to innovate to his heart's desire.

'I remember fondly coding up different games or creating something with circuits and doing stuff like that. It was really fun for me.'

His award winning melanoma treatment is a compound based bar of soap filled with cancer fighting chemicals.

It has multiple ingredients in it still it's cheap and affordable, making it accessible equitable to all.

Bekele was born in Ethiopia and moved to US by the age of 4.

'He constantly pondered over the fact that the direct heat of the sun is too dangerous for human health. But largely, people are unaware about it.'

When these very people with diagnosed with skin cancer, ofcourse, because of all that sun exposure, they weren't able to afford any sort of treatment. The average global price of skin cancer is $40,000, he estimated.

As he grew older, he saw all of that inequity happening around him and that led him to take an action in that direction. With the help of mentors, the Young Scientist Challenge helped him turn that hypothesis into a product.

Later, he needs FDA certification, followed by a provisional patent for the soap. Bekele hopes that it would hit the market by 2025.

Other runner-up's in the competition came up with innovations such as - using kelp seaweed to improve soil quality, cost-effective braille display device and microneedle patch that allows for automated drug delivery without pills or needles.


• mprnews.org