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11 January, 2018 - 11:44 By Kate Sweeney

California wakes up to Cambridge sleep aid technology

San Diego innovator Sommetrics Inc is using the Disc Pump technology solution from TTP Ventus in Cambridge to enable aerSleep™ – a novel negative-pressure system for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

TTP Ventus is a spin-out from TTP plc, the Cambridge-based technology product hothouse, and was created to bring disruptive new micropump technologies to market.

Having recently received a Health Canada medical device licence, aerSleep is now approved for marketing to patients in Canada. CE mark approval is expected in Q4 2018.

OSA is a disorder characterised by airway collapse during sleep, causing sufferers to stop breathing temporarily. The muscles supporting soft tissues in the throat relax, allowing the tissues to close over and obstruct the airway. It is estimated that there are more than 100 million sufferers worldwide, with more than 22 million in the United States alone.

The leading conventional treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). The treatment is effective yet requires users to wear a face mask connected via a hose to a large bedside pump unit, which is often uncomfortable, disruptive, and can restrict users’ movement during sleep.

Sommetrics’ aerSleep applies negative external air pressure to the outside of the neck by means of a soft collar, to gently move the tissue and tongue forward and prevent airway collapse. This approach avoids the need for a face-worn mask, helping to improve user comfort.

Jerry Aarestad, co-founder of Sommetrics said: “We had already developed prototypes by the time we met TTP Ventus and we knew that our technology worked. 

“However, during the early stages of development, our system shared a constraint with CPAP in that it required a connection to a bedside pump via a tube. Within minutes of seeing Disc Pump we knew that we’d found the solution we needed. Our whole plan had changed.”

A combination of silent, vibration-free operation, compact form factor and efficiency enabled Sommetrics to integrate Disc Pump directly into the collar. This eliminated the need for a hose and beside pump, thereby offering a non-invasive and therefore tolerable solution to OSA patients. 

Tom Harrison, business development manager for TTP Ventus, said: “Sommetrics’ aerSleep is a great example of how Disc Pump can enable genuinely disruptive products. Silent operation was critical to enabling this wearable sleep product; in other applications it’s our millisecond response time or non-pulsatile flow that bring value.

“We are proud to have partnered with Sommetrics to bring this ground-breaking product to market, and we hope their success will inspire other applications of our technology.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: The Sommetrics aerSleep system as worn on the neck during sleep

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