Posted on Oktober 11, 2002

Medical technology company Compumedics Ltd (ASX:CMP) has been granted US patents for two breakthrough developments for the treatment of sleep disorders. These developments take Compumedics, already a world leader in equipment for diagnosing sleep disorders, further into the larger field of treatments for the disorders.

The most common sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnoea, is commonly treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, a small air pump attached to a mask that keeps the air passages open during sleep. Individually, the new Compumedics patents cover a mask with integrated sensors (Biomask TM) and a sleep linked automatic gas delivery system (SPAP TM), but it is the combination of the two that presents the greatest potential advance for sleep apnoea sufferers.

Compumedics executive chairman, David Burton said, “We have applied Compumedics core competence in diagnostics to devise an intelligent sleep treatment system that monitors the quality of the patient’s sleep by measuring brain activity. By using that information to control the rate of air delivered from the pump, we expect patients to enjoy a significant improvement in sleep quality from that experienced with conventional CPAP systems.”

While conventional CPAP systems clearly improve the quality of an apnoea sufferer’s sleep, Compumedics’ research has found that a degree of arousal from sleep occurs when the air pump is activated to compensate for the patient’s own restricted breathing. To address this shortcoming, the Compumedics Biomask TM detects arousals from sleep and the SPAP TM optimises positive air pressure treatment in order to minimise sleep fragmentation and maximise sleep quality.

Professor Robert Pierce from the Institute for Breathing and Sleep at Melbourne’s Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre described the new Compumedics technology as a potentially significant advance in sleep medicine. “There can be no disputing the benefits that CPAP has brought to apnoea sufferers. However some breathing disturbance still occurs with the current devices before the pressure adjustment is triggered. Compumedics’ system may be able to detect and eliminate breathing disturbance earlier by monitoring brain activity and sending that information back to be integrated into the response of the air delivery pump,” he said.

The latest developments confirm Compumedics’ progress along the strategic path outlined in the prospectus for its initial public offering in 2000. “In 2000, we identified smart CPAP technology, specifically related to automatic control of air delivery, as one of the growth platforms for Compumedics. The awarding of these patents is a crucial step towards our entry into this lucrative world market,” David Burton said.

It is estimated that around $1.3 billion is currently spent each year on equipment to treat obstructive sleep apnoea. Untreated sleep apnoea is one of the major causes of daytime drowsiness and consequently is also one of the major causes of driver fatigue. Compumedics was recently awarded an Australian Research Council grant to develop vehicle based monitoring and warning devices to counter the potentially fatal effect of driver fatigue. This project was also identified as a key development project for the company in the 2000 prospectus.

Clinical trials to determine the benefits of the Biomask TM/SPAP TM technologies in controlling sleep disordered breathing have commenced.

For further information:

David Burton                                         David Lawson
Phone: +61 3 8413 7300                     Phone: +61 3 8413 7300
Fax: +61 3 8413 7399                          Fax: +61 3 8413 7399