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.


See what’s going on at NeuRA


The cold case of schizophrenia - broken wide open!

‘It is like they were miraculously healed!’’ Schizophrenia is diagnosed by clinical observation of behaviour and speech. This is why NeuRA researchers are working hard to understand the biological basis of the illness. Through hours of work and in collaboration with doctors and scientists here and around the world, NeuRA has made an amazing breakthrough. For the first time, researchers have discovered the presence of antibodies in the brains of people who lived with schizophrenia. Having found these antibodies, it has led NeuRA researchers to ask two questions. What are they doing there? What should we do about the antibodies– help or remove them? This is a key breakthrough. Imagine if we are treating schizophrenia all wrong! It is early days, but can you imagine the treatment implications if we’ve identified a new biological basis for the disease? It could completely change the way schizophrenia is managed, creating new treatments that will protect the brain. More than this, could we be on the verge of discovering a ‘curable’ form of schizophrenia? How you can help We are so grateful for your loyal support of schizophrenia research in Australia, and today I ask if you will consider a gift today. Or, to provide greater confidence, consider becoming a Discovery Partner by making a monthly commitment. We believe there is great potential to explore these findings. Will you help move today’s breakthrough into tomorrow’s cure? To read more about this breakthrough, click ‘read the full story’ below. You are also invited to read ‘Beth’s story’, whose sweet son Marcus lived with schizophrenia, by clicking here.