Scientists Rediscover Old Drug To Treat Sleep Apnea

Anti-nausea Drug an Effective Treatment for Sleep Apnea

The long wait may be finally be over for those suffering from sleep apnea. Thanks to the powerhouse of scientists at University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University who discovered the strong potential of an old pharmaceutical product known as dronabinol, an anti-nausea drug.

According to the scientists, dronabinol can help people who suffer from sleep apnea.

The drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more than 25 years ago to treat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.

The team of researchers include David Carley, professor of biobehavioral health sciences, medicine and bioengineering at UIC; and Phyllis Zee, professor of neurology at Northwestern University.

The Study and Result

A previous study was conducted to test the potency of dronabinol to treat sleep apnea. With an aim to further probe the efficacy of the drug, the scientists conducted new research.

This time, the researchers divided adult patients into three groups. One group was given a low dose of the drug, a second group received a higher dose, and the third, a placebo. Participants received the drug once daily before bed for six weeks.

The results were amazing!

The researchers found that over six weeks of treatment with the highest dose of dronabinol (10 milligrams), it was associated with a lower frequency of apneas or hypopneas during sleep, decreased subjective sleepiness, and greater overall treatment satisfaction.

Aside from that, the amount of sleep or objective sleepiness also improved among respondents.

old drug to treat sleep apnea.
A man with sleep apnea.

New Hope For Sufferers

The findings of the study give new hope for sleep apnea sufferers especially as there is no specific drug to treat sleep apnea.

At the present time there are no approved drug treatments for sleep apnea, and there remains an important unmet need for fully effective and acceptable treatments of the disorder,” said Carley.

For almost 35 years, researchers attempted to identify drugs to treat the sleep disorder. Now, the new discovery is a significant step to finally find a cure.

By providing a path toward the first viable obstructive sleep apnea drug, our studies could have a major impact on clinical practice,” Carley said.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is disrupted during sleep. Men, overweight people, and people over 40 are at greater risk for sleep apnea.

An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from the disorder, with 80 percent of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed.

Obstructive sleep apnea, poses significant health problems and is deadly too. Individuals suffering from sleep apnea have an increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.