hentoTouch is developing a wearable, non-invasive device that activates the neural fibers that encode gentle and pleasant social touch on the surface of the skin. The hypothesis is that this kind of neural activation could be beneficial in prevention of relapses in alcohol use disorders (AUD), aka alcoholism.
hentoTouch is now pilot testing this with patients. If this hypothesis turns out to be correct, their future customers would be the 280 million global AUD patients and their employers. At the moment, approximately 90 % of these patients do not receive any treatment.
hentoTouch knows that the neural activation that their device is aimed at doing, has a huge effect on physiological modulation of stress. So, in addition to AUD treatment, the device could be used as a stress management tool for healthy people.
AUD is a massive global health threat. According to WHO it kills 3 million people every year. On top of the health burden, it causes devastating social and economic consequences. In Finland, the annual cost of alcohol misuse to workplaces is at least 500 million euros.
With the current treatments, up to 85 % of the patients who manage to quit drinking will eventually start drinking again. This is where hentoTouch can hopefully help by preventing substance craving and relapses. At the moment, the AUD treatment market is tiny compared to the size of the problem and it definitely has room for new solutions, as there have not been any for decades.
What is your impact in society?
hentoTouch: AUD is a disease that affects the whole society, not just the patients themselves. Families of the patients, workplaces, the healthcare system, the social welfare system… the list of the affected entities goes on and on. And as mentioned earlier, the economic burden for the society is huge. Finding a new effective treatment could really make a massive difference here.
What is your impact in users and customers in the Med Tech industry?
hentoTouch: For individual patients, our impact would be to help them to maintain the sobriety and to have control over their own lives instead of letting the addiction rule. At the moment, there aren’t any prescription-free immediately available solutions in the market. We want our customers to be able to walk into a pharmacy and get the device as soon as they have decided to quit.
For workplaces, who we also see as our customers, we offer a tool for savings by keeping their employees healthy and capable of maintaining their jobs.
What are your Sustainable Development Goals and why?
hentoTouch: UN’s SDG 3 for Good Health and Wellbeing* specifically mentions strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including alcohol, as one of the main goals. This is our main goal as well.
*Source: United Nations: sdgs.un.org/goals
How will people’s lives change with your innovation?
hentoTouch: We are developing an affordable and easy-to-reach treatment for possibly the most undertreated neuropsychiatric disorder. We hope that due to our innovation, there will be less suffering for the patients and their loved ones, as well as savings for the workplaces and the whole society.
Why is your solution is better than some other ones? Or what is your distinctiveness factor?
hentoTouch: Currently, there are no medical device solutions for prevention of alcohol relapses. The pharmacological and psychosocial treatments that are the current standard of care, are clearly not effective enough in preventing relapses. However, we are not aiming at competing with the currently available treatments. Instead, we want to offer a new type of treatment which may be used alongside the existing treatments, either with them or on its own.
What kind of benefits and help have you gotten from Aalto Startup Center / this ecosystem?
hentoTouch: We have e.g. had help assessing our innovation readiness level, as well as coaching for pitching and building a great investor deck.
Are you interested in join hentoTouch pilot survey? Read more here.
Watch hentoTouch’s introduction video on Youtube.