An oily film that remains on the skin after using soap to help fight melanoma. It is the idea of a young American who has just won a prestigious scientific competition.
An American scientist has just developed a soap that could help many patients fight skin cancer. And he did that only 14 years old.
In the context of the Young Scientist’s Challenge, a scientific competition for young people organized by the American multinational 3M, Heman Bekele received the first prize for his unique invention. The principle ? This greasy soap would deposit a healing layer on the skin that would stimulate and enable the immune system fight melanoma.
A genius idea
This young teen says yes inspired by his very early childhood in Ethiopiathat he remembers “people who worked all day under the scorching sun”. His family moved to the United States when he was four years old. Growing up, as reported by several US media outlets, Heman revealed that he was a child like no other, who cares more about his invention than activities usually favored by young people his age, such as video games or social networking. His goal? Providing effective and inexpensive treatment for those who need it. Consider that in the United States, skin cancer treatment can cost up to $40,000 (€37,500), depending on Science alert.
How it works ?
The main composition of the soap isimidazoquinoline, a drug that is already being used across the Channel to treat one of the interesting forms of skin cancer, namely basal cell carcinoma. The idea is that once applied to the skin, this soap leaves a slightly greasy layer that does not come off when rinsed and has an effect against cancer cells. This is due to the lipid nanoparticles in the soap, which in theory could allow the drug to penetrate the skin more easily. Nanoparticles have been permitted in the United States since 2018 if they contain medicinal substances.
To help him with his approach, he was supported by a scientist from the company and several American universities. Tools were made available to him, including computer models to test the results of his soap opera. They allowed him to do that “test different ingredients and combine them differently to see what they do”he explained to National Public Radio. “I achieved very, very high marks in efficiency”, said the young boy, who hopes to one day get permission to start a clinical trial. He received an award from $250,000 to continue his research, but hopes to raise more money. His dream is that in a few years his soap can be used by everyone: he wants to set up a non-profit organization to distribute it, if it proves effective.
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