U-M Receives Phase II Grant from the National Institutes of Health to Further Develop OTC Screening Device for Treating Sleep Apnea

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan’s Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory and Zansors, LLC recently received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further develop an over-the-counter screening device for sleep apnea. Zansors, LLC is a health technology company based near Washington, D.C. The grant comes from the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) for Phase II of their SBIR/STTR program. This is a continuation of a previously funded Phase I grant.

The funds will be used to further develop research and then seek FDA approval for a wearable sleep product to screen for sleep apnea. More than 18 million adult Americans have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Up to 80 percent of these cases may be undiagnosed. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to conditions from hypertension and heart disease to tiredness and depression.

“With this funding, our aim is to significantly increase the screening of at-risk, under-served individuals by making identification of this sleep disorder easy and affordable for all,” said J. Todd Arnedt, PhD, Director of the Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory, which is part of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan and affiliated with the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center.

Todd Ardedt, Ph.D.

Todd Ardedt, Ph.D.

Dr. Arnedt will serve as Principal Investigator for the grant and Abhijit Dasgupta, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Data Science Officer of Zansors, will serve as Co-Investigator.

“We are using our technology to combine wearable sensors, algorithms and bioengineering into a first of its kind product,” said Dr. Dasgupta. “The process to create this sleep apnea screening device is complex, but the idea is simple: Zansors making affordable, easy-to-use diagnostic tools so people can be proactive about their health. You can’t improve yourself without first identifying the issues.”

Phase I research on this sleep apnea device assessed feasibility, and the device was tested on 50 patients at University of Michigan. The results from this phase demonstrated that the device performed well compared to gold-standard diagnostics for sleep apnea.

Phase II, which is currently in progress, will focus on validation, beginning with improving the design and bio-engineering of the device and developing more efficient and accurate algorithms.

“This technology not only holds promise for helping Americans detect sleep apnea, it also has great potential to decrease costs in healthcare,” said Mark Fendrick, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Health Management and Policy, and Director of the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design at the University of Michigan. “The research that NIMHD is funding is exactly what is needed to introduce a more effective way of delivering care.”

Research reported in this press release was supported by National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities] of the National Institutes of Health under award number: 2R42MD008845-02.

Learn more about the U-M Sleep Lab here.

Disclosures: Dr. Arnedt has intellectual property licensed to Zansors. Dr. Fendrick holds equity and also serves on the Clinical Advisory Board for Zansors.