Thinking Tech

13-year-old student finds cure for hiccups

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Investors and business students are helping to bring Mallory Kievman's hiccupops to hospitals and pharmacies.

While many middle schoolers have a hard enough time figuring out algebra problems, one had her hands full solving one of life's most annoying problems: hiccups.

After spending two years ingesting volumes of medical literature and swallowing saltwater, pickle juice and every well-known folk remedy out there, the 13-year-old Mallory Kievman finally came up with a cure that she feels actually works. The next step, which involves filing a patent and forming a company to manufacture, market and distribute her "Hiccupops," is in the works as she has enlisted the help of MBA students and an established angel investor.

The eighth grader from Talcott Mountain Academy in Connecticut is thinking big -- way beyond local science fairs. After winning honors at her school's invention fair last year, Kievman was chosen to showcase her idea at the Connecticut Invention Convention, where she won awards for innovation and patent-ability. The annual competition for kid inventors was also where she met investor Danny Briere, who founded Startup Connecticut, a state initiative created to assist promising home-grown entrepreneurs. Briere has since become one of Kievman's biggest supporters and helped arrange for her to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

“It’s very rare, when you’re evaluating businesses, that you can envision a company or product being around 100 years from now,” Briere told the New York Times. “Hiccupops is one of those things. It solves a very simple, basic need.”

The special concoction she found to work best is a blend of apple cider vinegar, acids and sugar served up in the form of a lollipop. Kievman explains that the combination activates specific nerves located in the throat and mouth that cause the hiccup reflex arc. In theory, by overstimulating those nerves, you can cancel out the reflex.

Though it was challenging enough just identifying which ingredients were most effective, she also had to go through more than 40 batches of candy to come up with the a recipe that would enable the candy to harden just right. She's currently playing with the formula to get the lollipops to taste the way lollipops should.

And while she didn't receive much help outside of her dad in the research and development phase, Kievman, CEO of Hiccupops, will now have plenty of assistance from UConn's Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Graduate students from the center have been assigned until the end of the summer to help bring her product to market. Currently, they're in search of a manufacturer.

Outside of ensuring that the idea is profitable enough to be sustainable, Kievman hopes her efforts can help those suffering from serious conditions. For instance, hiccups are a common side effect of patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“It always has been really appealing to me to be able to sort of have a product out there that can help people,” she said. “I want to become a doctor and go into medicine.”

(via NY Times, TechCocktail)

Government Photo: Connecticut Senate Democrats

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure