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Researchers use diabetes medication as effective drug therapy for sleep-related disorder

London, June 22 2024-

A team of researchers have demonstrated the potential of tirzepatide, known to manage type 2 diabetes, as the first effective drug therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a sleep-related condition characterised by repeated episodes of irregular breathing due to complete or partial blockage of the upper airway, a new study has said.

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted the treatment’s potential to enhance the quality of life for millions worldwide affected by OSA.

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

OSA can cause low blood oxygen levels and raise the risk of cardiovascular problems such as hypertension and heart failure. Recent research, also led by Malhotra, suggests that there are approximately 936 million OSA patients globally.

The study involved 469 participants diagnosed with clinical obesity and living with moderate-to-severe OSA.

The participants were administered either 10 or 15 mg of the drug by injection or a placebo. The impact of tirzepatide was assessed over 52 weeks.

Researchers found that tirzepatide led to a significant drop 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 study mentioned.

In addition, the researchers noted that some participants who took the drug reached a point where CPAP therapy might not be necessary.

The therapy also improved other factors related to OSA, such as reducing the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and improving body weight.

“This new drug treatment offers a more accessible alternative for individuals who cannot tolerate or adhere to existing therapies. We believe that the combination of CPAP therapy with weight loss will be optimal for improving cardiometabolic risk and symptoms,” said Malhotra. (Agency)

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