Disc Pump from TTP Ventus could help millions with obstructive sleep apnea
Melbourn firm's technology employed by California-based Sommetrics Inc in its aerSleep system
It is believed there are 100 million people worldwide with the condition.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterised by a collapse in the airway during sleep, causing sufferers to stop breathing temporarily – often for 20-40 seconds at a time.
It can be a cause of snoring and lead to excessive sleepiness during the day, but may also cause headaches, insomnia, trouble concentrating, heartburn, anxiety, depression or even, in a quarter of cases, irreversible problems in cognitive processes and memory.
Melbourn Science Park-based TTP Ventus could have the answer.
The company was spun out of TTP plc to commercialise disruptive micropump technology that could provide a much more comfortable solution for those with OSA than the leading conventional treatment, which is known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
While effective, CPAP requires users to wear a face mask connected by a hose to a large bedside pump unit. This is often uncomfortable, disruptive and can restrict users’ movement during sleep.
By contrast, TTP Ventus’ Disc Pump technology is silent, vibration-free, compact and efficient.
It proved the ideal solution for California-based sleep technology firm Sommetrics Inc, which has employed Disc Pump into its aerSleep negative-pressure system.
Jerry Aarestad, co-founder of Sommetrics, said: “We had already developed prototypes by the time we met TTP Ventus and we knew that our technology worked.
“However, during the early stages of development, our system shared a constraint with CPAP in that it required a connection to a bedside pump via a tube. Within minutes of seeing Disc Pump we knew that we’d found the solution we needed. Our whole plan had changed.”
OSA is caused when the muscles supporting soft tissues in the throat relax, allowing the tissues to close over and obstruct the airway.
Sommetrics’ aerSleep uses a soft collar to apply negative external air pressure to the outside of the neck, gently moving the tissue and tongue forward and preventing airway collapse. This avoids the need for an uncomfortable face mask.
Disc Pump is integrated directly into the collar, eliminating the need for a hose and bedside pump.
Tom Harrison, business development manager at TTP Ventus, said: “Sommetrics’ aerSleep is a great example of how Disc Pump can enable genuinely disruptive products. Silent operation was critical to enabling this wearable sleep product; in other applications it’s our millisecond response time or non-pulsatile flow that bring value.
“We are proud to have partnered with Sommetrics to bring this ground-breaking product to market, and we hope their success will inspire other applications of our technology.”
Having received a Health Canada Medical Device Licence, aerSleep is approved for use in Canada. CE mark approval is expected in the final quarter of this year.
Causes of OSA can vary. Many adults with the condition are also obese but brain injury, old age, decreased muscle tone and structural features can all be factors.
In children, obstructive tonsils and adenoids are a common cause, which can lead to a ‘failure to thrive’, where growth is affected.