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Montefiore Researchers Conduct First U.S. Study to Map the Genetic Cause of Sweaty Palms

NEW YORK CITY,NY (January 26, 2005) -- Researchers at Montefiore Medical Center are recruiting patients for a national study to determine the possible genetic causes of hyperhidrosis (sweaty palms syndrome), a condition that affects 1 in 500 persons. Patients with hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweating from their palms and the soles of their feet.

“If we locate the gene or genes responsible for hyperhidrosis, it will help us to better understand how the body regulates temperature, which may lead to a better treatment for sweaty palms,” said Steven M. Keller, MD, the study’s principal investigator at Montefiore.

“We are recruiting patients nationwide because patients with this condition can participate without leaving their homes,” said Dr. Keller. Patients will fill out a questionnaire and use a sample collection kit that is sent to them. Participants will be asked to wash out their mouths with Scope and then spit into a small container supplied in the kit.

“From the saliva sample they send in, we will extract the DNA samples we need for the study,” said Dr. Keller. “It’s that simple, and potentially very important to identifying the cause of what can be a devastating condition.”

Patients with hyperhidrosis say they are embarrassed to shake hands socially, find it difficult to write without sweating on the paper they use and cannot use a computer keyboard or play a musical instrument. To treat patients with hyperhidrosis, Dr. Keller has performed over 200 special surgical procedures, called sympathectomies. The procedure includes severing a small nerve in the chest. The cause of hyperhidrosis is not yet known.

Of his more than 200 patients, Dr. Keller found that 44 percent report a family history of the condition, which led him to believe that isolating the gene or genes that cause sweaty palms could help researchers find a better treatment. Robert Burk, MD, professor of Pediatrics, Epidemiology and Public Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is also an investigator on the study.

Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, ranks among the top one percent of all US hospitals based on its investments in medical innovation and cutting-edge technology.

Montefiore invests more in order to enable compassionate, personalized care and the most positive outcomes for patients and their families in New York, the tri-state area and beyond. Montefiore’s unique combination of ‘state-of-the-art’ technology with ‘state-of-the-heart’ medical and nursing care in a teaching and research environment provides patients with access to world-class medical experts, the newest and most innovative treatments and the best medical center experience anywhere.

This 1,062 bed medical center includes the Henry and Lucy Moses Division, the Jack D. Weiler Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, a large home healthcare agency and a 21-site medical group practice located throughout the Bronx and nearby Westchester.

Montefiore treats all major illnesses and has distinguished centers of excellence in cardiology and cardiac surgery, cancer care, tissue and organ transplantation, children's health, women's health, surgery and the surgical subspecialties. Montefiore Medical Center focuses on providing family-centered healthcare in a nurturing environment that extends well beyond hospital and clinic walls.