Justin Huelman knows that sweaty palms aren’t just an annoyance to be wiped away. As someone who has suffered from excessive sweating, technically known as hyperhidrosis, since his youth, he was motivated to find a solution. That’s what led him to co-found palmm, one of the recent startups to join the Institute. Along with co-founder Véronique Peiffer, their company is developing a simple, at-home treatment for the condition, initially focusing on the hands, often cited as the most bothersome area and hardest to hide the condition.
“Everyone at some point has experienced profuse sweating, for example during very stressful situations or extreme heat,” said Justin. “But for some people, this is a chronic problem that is difficult to cover and can make one very socially conscious. Imagine being in a job interview or work situation where handshaking is a routine part of the process, or meeting a new acquaintance at a party, and worrying that your hands are sweaty.”
For 15 million Americans, or one in 50 people, hyperhidrosis impacts situations that most people don’t think twice about. This little-talked-about condition can affect several locations on the body and dramatically affect quality of life in both social and professional settings.
A Treatment to Stop the Sweat
To date, treatment options, which include antiperspirants, Botox injections and cardiothoracic surgery, have proven to be either ineffective, inconvenient, costly or invasive, leaving an important unmet clinical need.
People who suffer from hyperhidrosis experience severe sweating even when they are in air conditioned rooms or simply sitting at work because their sweat glands never shut off. palmm’s technology gives an electrical stimulus to the skin which has proven to temporarily deactivate the sweat glands. The technology is incorporated into a glove, which still allows the user to conduct daily activities, such as typing or driving. The glove is worn once a week or every other week for about 30 minutes and its effect lasts an average of seven days. The glove is easy to use and painless.
The startup successfully treated nine patients at the Stanford Dermatology Clinic and is currently raising seed funding to continue enhancing functionality as well as expand their team.
Justin and Véronique are former Innovation Fellows at the Stanford Biodesign program, where they formed palmm, and were later incubated at the university to further develop their concept. As a natural next step to grow their concept from a project to a company, they joined the Fogarty Institute.
“The Institute has been very helpful in helping us connect with other entrepreneurs who are in similar phases or even farther along with their startups, as well as introducing us to professionals with the relevant expertise to help us grow and address and anticipate any obstacles we are likely to encounter,” said Véronique. “We know that this technology will provide a solution that can be life-changing for millions worldwide who have this condition and have yet to find a suitable answer.”
palmm recently won the MedTech Innovator Showcase Video competition and presented at the prestigious MedTech Conference in San Jose.