NeuRA Magazine #21


Meet Assoc Prof Danny Eckert from the NeuRA Sleep and Breathing Lab. His team are about to partner with Brisbane-based company, Oventus Medical, on a major new Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) program. He tells us more about this study which could help us all have a better night’s sleep.


What approach will this research take?

This research will target therapy for sleep apnoea using a novel personalised approach as a result of a successful Cooperative Research Centres Programme (CRC-P) grant application. CRC-P’s are funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Innovation, Science and Technology and are designed to support outcome-focused collaborative research partnerships between industry, researchers and

the community.


What is the key aim of this project?

This project aims to develop several technologies to establish an integrated, real-time sleep monitoring and treatment platform for OSA. NeuRA will lead the clinical research program for this collaborative project.


Is there an economic cost to business around sleep disorders?

In 2011, sleep disorders cost the Australian economy an estimated $21.2 billion (Deloitte Access Economics: The economic cost of sleep disorders in Australia 2012). Effective treatment for OSA has been limited by poor tolerance of the main therapy and has been limited by accessibility and adoption of new technology for diagnosis and treatment.


Are there are range of factors that disrupt our sleep?

The Sleep and Breathing Lab at NeuRA has demonstrated that a range of factors impact the categorisation of OSA. This new understanding of the underlying causes of OSA has unlocked new targets for therapy. However, diagnosis is still heavily reliant on the date from an overnight sleep study, which can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Treatment of OSA has traditionally been dominated by Positive Airway Pressure (PAP), developed here in Sydney. If used regularly, PAP technologies have a high success rate.


How will the clinical trials be structured?

My research team will conduct the clinical trials for the project to test and enable refinement of the technologies, and incorporate the techniques and advances in tailored therapy for OSA, pioneered by the NeuRA sleep and breathing team. Clinical validation and refinement in this context will be critical to translating these concepts and technologies to provide new treatment options and improved outcomes for patients.


When will the trials take place?

The clinical sleep trials which will be performed at NeuRA in 3 stages (1 each year of the project) will test various treatment options singly and in combination. The milestones for the project are specifically set to revolve around patient outcomes from the 3 clinical trials, with the overarching goals of developing more effective, more reliable and more comfortable therapies compared with current technologies.


NeuRA is internationally renowned for its sleep and breathing research. Its clinical research team have an established track record in identifying the multiple causes of OSA and developing and testing new tailored therapies.


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During three decades on Australian television, two simple words brought us to attention.

‘Hello daaaahling’. Outrageous, flamboyant, iconic – Jeanne Little captivated Australians everywhere with her unique style, cockatoo shrill voice and fashion sense. "Mum wasn't just the life of the party, she was the party.” Katie Little, Jeanne’s daughter remembers. This icon of Australian television brought a smile into Australian homes. Tragically, today Jeanne can't walk, talk or feed herself. She doesn't recognise anyone, with a random sound or laugh the only glimpse of who she truly is. Jeanne Little has Alzheimer's disease. The 1,000 Brains Study NeuRA is very excited to announce the 1,000 Brains Study, a ground-breaking research project to identify the elements in our brains that cause life-changing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other dementias. This study will focus on the key unresolved question: why do some of us develop devastating neurodegenerative diseases, while others retain good brain health? The study will compare the genomes of people who have reached old age with healthy brains against the genomes of those who have died from neurodegenerative diseases, with post mortem examination of brain tissue taking place at NeuRA’s Sydney Brain Bank. More information on the study can be found here. Will you please support dementia research and the 1,000 Brains Study and help drive the future of genetics research in Australia?