A 15-million Euro EU-granted project aims to revolutionize research, diagnosis, and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and related disorders.
The Sleep Revolution, an interdisciplinary international research and development project, has been selected for a 15-million Euro grant from the EU‘s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Health, demographic change, and wellbeing. Nox Medical is one of almost 40 collaborating partners from academia and industry, contributing to technical and scientific expertise in sleep diagnostics.
The project aims to revolutionize research, diagnosis, and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and related disorders. Over the four year project period, the grant will contribute to the development of machine learning techniques to better estimate the severity and treatment needs for OSA, to improve health outcomes and quality of life. With the commitment of the European Sleep Research Society and the Assembly of National Sleep Societies, with its over 8000 members, the project further aims to create new standardized international guidelines for sleep medicine.
The project is led by Dr. Erna Sif Arnardottir, Director of the Reykjavik University Sleep Institute, President of the Icelandic Sleep Research Society, and a board member of the European Sleep Research Society. In a written statement, she explains how the need for change in diagnostic procedures and scoring of sleep studies was the motivation for initiating the project
“I have been working in the sleep field now for over 15 years and it has been becoming clearer to me every year that we need to change the way we work, especially for diagnostic procedures and the scoring of sleep studies. Both are we not diagnosing all patients correctly (with both over-and underdiagnosis occurring) and the whole procedure is too labor-intensive and time-consuming for us to manage the large number of patients that need our services.” Says Dr. Arnardottir.
The project partners all share Dr. Arnarsdottir’s vision and the need for change in the field of sleep medicine. The partners, including high-level researchers, experienced clinicians, and industry experts, bring different expertise to the project. Nox Medical will participate in the project through the company’s research branch, Nox Research, as well as a provider of diagnostic devices in the project’s sleep studies
“It was very important for us to collaborate with a world-leading sleep diagnostic company as we want clinicians and researchers to be able to use the tools and analyses generated in this project at the end of the 4 year grant period. Nox Medical was our first choice, we have collaborated with Nox before and know how supportive they are of research and moving the field forward.” Dr. Arnarsdottir adds.
Petur M. Halldorsson, CEO of Nox Medical, says it is an honor to be among a strong group of partners that are dedicated to changing sleep medicine
“It is a great honor to be among strong partners that are invested in changing how we diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Modern sleep medicine is changing with increased research and the use of artificial intelligence, and we at Nox Medical are part of that change. I am looking forward to witnessing the fruit of this collaboration over the next four years in our mission to advance sleep medicine.” Says Halldorsson.
Building Large Sleep Databases
The project involves building a powerful database consisting of data from sleep measurements from 30 thousand individuals, collected in Iceland and around Europe. Additional data will be collected utilizing smartwatches, questionnaires, sleep-measuring devices, and neuropsychological tests. Furthermore, a safe digital platform will be developed for scientists, health professionals, and participants in OSA studies to share their data and research findings for research and diagnosis purposes.
“I think large databases are crucial for the future of sleep medicine and sleep research. It is impossible to change the diagnostics and treatment of any disease without a large body of evidence to support those changes” says Dr. Arnardottir.
In her opinion, open sleep data, when possible, is the way to move the field of sleep medicine further, to test and validate new biomarkers of disease and new automatic analysis of sleep stages or other event scoring needed to make the work more cost-effective and better. Large scale multidisciplinary research across countries is key in making those changes.
Nox Medical Self Applied Somnography (SAS)
The recently developed Self Applied Somnography (SAS)* by Nox Medical will be used in the project. The SAS system will enable researchers to collect accurate data without the cost of having patients sleep in a clinic. The technology is one of the many innovations born out to Nox Research that came about when researchers were looking to give scientists an easier method to do research on a larger scale
“At the time when we were developing the SAS we were seeing many large and expensive sleep research projects having to use the most simple home sleep apnea testing (HSAT) solutions. We thought it was a shame that leading sleep scientists were limited to measuring only a minimal HSAT,” says Dr. Agustsson, Research Manager at Nox Medical. “The initial intention was to allow scientists to collect more complete sleep data, without having to send sleep techs to every subject’s home.” Dr. Agustsson adds.
The SAS system collects more data than a typical home sleep test (HSAT) and has already been employed in at least 4,000 sleep research studies in the last two years, helping researchers study patient populations from a distance. Right now, the system is only used for research purposes. Leading scientists in the field have embraced the SAS and Dr. Arnarsdottir believes it will help change modern sleep diagnostic towards a more home-based system
“Nox Medical had already started developing self-applied polysomnography system that is a crucial component to changing the world of sleep diagnostics to a more home-based system without the need to go to the sleep lab for the night or setup by personnel – something we have seen even better in the current Covid-19 situation,” says Dr. Arnardottir.
Sleep Diagnostics and Treatment Revolution
In four years at the end of the project period, Dr. Arnardottir hopes to have revolutionized how sleep diagnostic and treatment is performed.
“Our goal is to change modern sleep medicine for the better and at the end of the 4 year period, we will be able to change the diagnostic criteria and procedures based on validated findings. Sleep diagnostic and patient care will thus improve significantly at the same time as health care costs per patient go down.” Says Dr. Arnardottir.
She says that the plan is to change the way diagnostics are performed, to better predict who will develop adverse consequences due to sleep disordered breathing, predict this in a much earlier manner than is currently done, and get patients into relevant treatment with milder disease. Over the project period, the plan is to validate two new treatment options designed for patients with milder forms of the disease – lifestyle treatment to lose weight and exercise more as well and to strengthen the upper airway muscles.
To learn more about the Sleep Revolution project and connect with project leader Dr. Arnardottir please find more information here.
*The Self Applied Somnography (SAS) is for research purposes only.
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