The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research has identified sleep disorders as a major public health burden affecting millions of North Americans. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is one of the most common and serious of these sleep disorders and affects approximately 6% of women and 13% of men, which means that more than 20 million Americans are affected.
OSA is characterized by partial or complete upper airway occlusion that occurs during sleep, resulting in increased respiratory muscle effort against an obstructed upper airway in an attempt to maintain air flow, which in turn may lead to arousal from sleep, sleep fragmentation, excessive daytime sleepiness
Sleep apnea affects more than 20 million Americans and has serious consequences.
OSA is caused by a combination of predisposing anatomical factors and sleep-related decrements of activity in upper airway muscles.
Current treatments primarily rely on positive pressure devices, e.g., CPAP, to maintain airway patency. Less commonly used treatments include mandibular advancement devices, nerve stimulation, and surgical interventions.
CPAP appears to be effective in reducing effects on sleep and ameliorating daytime symptoms; however, CPAP can be uncomfortable or difficult to use for many patients, and recent studies indicate that fewer than 50% of patients prescribed CPAP use if for 4 hours or more each night.
Many patients with sleep apnea, perhaps a majority, do not tolerate CPAP therapy.
Pharmacologic treatment for sleep apnea would constitute a major advance.
There is a clear unmet need for an effective, acceptable therapy to address the physiologic and symptomatic effects of OSA. Apnimed is among the first companies seeking to develop pharmacologic therapies for this important illness.
Groundbreaking research from Drs. Luigi Taranto and Andrew Wellman and their colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston paves the way for a pharmacologic treatment of OSA. This work indicates the potential for a nightly medication to treat OSA in place of CPAP or similar devices. Apnimed is in the process of confirming and extending this exciting research so it can be offered to a broad range of patients with OSA.