Promising new treatment for sleep apnea

Drug therapy breakthrough for sleep apnea - Newsreel
Millions of people may get a better sleep in the future due to a drug treatment breakthrough for sleep apnea. | Photo: Bartek Szewczyk (iStock)

A new treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) could improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world.

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and international collaborators have conducted an extensive study to demonstrate the potential of tirzepatide to treat the condition.

Tirzepatide is currently used as part of the management of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers, in a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week described it as the “first effective drug therapy” for OSA.

OSA is a sleep-related disorder characterized by repeated irregular breathing due to complete or partial blockage of the upper airway. It is also associated with loud snoring.

“This study marks a significant milestone in the treatment of OSA, offering a promising new therapeutic option that addresses both respiratory and metabolic complications,” lead study author Atul Malhotra said.

“OSA can result in reduced oxygen levels in the blood and can also be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications, such as hypertension and heart disease.

“Recent studies suggest that the number of OSA patients worldwide is close to 936 million.”

The researchers found that tirzepatide led to a significant decrease in the number of breathing interruptions during sleep, a key indicator used to measure the severity of OSA.

“This improvement was much greater than what was seen in participants that were given a placebo,” the research report said.

“Considerable data suggest that a drug therapy that targets both sleep apnea and obesity is beneficial rather than treating either condition alone.

“Additionally, the drug therapy improved other aspects related to OSA, such as reducing the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and improved body weight.”

The full report is on the University of California website.