The new treatment integrates a valve into a mouthguard to naturally increase airflow and reduce snoring. The valve is called the ExVent and it nearly doubles the success rates of traditional mouthguards for sleep apnoea sufferers.
The unexpected discovery was made early in the three-year collaboration currently underway between CSIRO, Brisbane medical devices company Oventus Medical, RMIT and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). The $2.9 million project is funded through the Federal Government's Cooperative Research Centres Projects Grants.
More than one million Australians suffer from the debilitating disease, where people stop breathing often hundreds of times a night.
There is also research that suggests those who suffer from sleep apnoea may not be capable of burning sufficiently high levels of oxygen during strenuous aerobic exercise derailing New Year’s resolutions to get fit and healthy.
Now years of clinical trials have come together to produce this world-first technology that will help solve the sleep crisis.
Stefan Gulizia, Research Group Leader at CSIRO said it has been exciting working with Oventus to progress their product and seeing the ongoing success of the company.
"We are pleased to see these results so early in our project with Oventus, RMIT and NeuRA," Mr Gulizia said.
"Research and development gives companies like Oventus a competitive advantage and helps capture emerging opportunities in local and global markets."
Oventus founder and CEO Dr Chris Hart said CSIRO had been vital in supporting Australian industry through innovative research and development to deliver new treatments for obstructive sleep apnoea.
"Working with CSIRO we have been able to develop our technology further and have the potential to disrupt the billion-dollar sleep apnoea market," Dr Hart said.
Dr Hart also added that the results for the new ExVent valve match Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment success rates for more than 75 per cent of patients.
"This is the first time an oral treatment with a pressure valve to stabilise breathing has been incorporated into sleep apnoea treatment devices," he said.
"Nasal obstruction and breathing through their mouths was one of the main reasons treatment failed when patients used CPAP and this is what we targeted in our first device, the titanium O2Vent."
"This breakthrough turns mouth breathing from villain to hero," Dr Hart said.
The next generation of O2Vent, the O2Vent Optima oral device, made from more aesthetically pleasing nylon in white, will be available in January for around the same cost as a CPAP machine.
The mouthguard-like device is lightweight, durable and has a patented built-in airway.
It differs from the titanium O2Vent T and W devices in terms of material, having a lower profile and involves fewer manufacturing processes so has a faster turnaround time.
The ExVent valve add-on accessory that fits into the airway inlet of the O2Vent Optima will be available early in the new year in Australia.
Untreated, obstructive sleep apnoea can cause a myriad of diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeat and diabetes.