28 Jan 2019   |   Network News

University of Eastern Finland coordinates Nordic research consortium aiming to revolutionise diagnostics of sleep apnoea


The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) coordinates a Nordic research consortium aiming to revolutionise the diagnostics of sleep apnoea. The consortium funding is over 2 million euros and it is supported by Business Finland Innovation Fund, the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNÍS) and the Research Council of Norway in cooperation with NordForsk. The research project is carried out in collaboration with the University of Reykjavik (Iceland) and the Akershus University Hospital (Norway). In addition, the consortium includes several commercial partners: Nokia Solutions and Networks Ltd, CGI Finland Ltd, Nox Medical (Iceland), Bittium Biosignals Oy, Screentec Oy, Nukute Oy and Drowzee AS (Norway).

Sleep apnoea is a prevalent nocturnal breathing disorder causing a high burden to the public health care system. Untreated obstructive sleep apnoea increases risk for several life-threatening medical conditions such as stroke and heart failure. However, the methods currently used to diagnose and assess the severity of sleep apnoea are laborious, expensive, and sometimes inaccurate.

The research project aims to develop new, more accurate and highly automated methods for the diagnostics of sleep apnoea. New methods are expected to significantly improve the diagnostics and severity assessment of sleep apnoea and arrangement of individualised treatment since they are expected to correlate better with the disease severity, related daytime symptoms and risk of severe health consequences than the presently used diagnostic parameters.

“New methods to be developed are based on wearable, unobtrusive sensors and modern computational solutions based on machine learning,” says Professor Juha Töyräs, Director of the research consortium.

New sensors and computational tools are expected to respond to the growing pressure to move most sleep studies from sleep laboratories to home, and to reduce the workload and costs related to manual analysis of nocturnal sleep recordings. A new generation of diagnostic methods could enable more effective prevention of comorbidities and targeting of limited treatment resources to those patients in greatest need.

“New solutions to be developed in the project will make it possible to evaluate the severity of sleep apnoea much more precisely, as they will take into account the most significant risk factors associated with nocturnal breathing cessations and related physiological burden individually,” says Senior Researcher Timo Leppänen, the work package leader in machine learning based project activities.

The project is based on large international patient cohorts collected and analysed in collaboration with world top level clinicians, physicists and engineers in Norway, Iceland and Finland. In addition, the project involves close cooperation with industrial partners.

“Wearable sleep monitoring systems and sophisticated artificial intelligence based solutions could open global scalable business potential for industry partners operating in the medical device sector, as well as for health centres and sleep clinics by offering telemedicine sleep diagnostic and treatment follow-up services,” says Docent Sami Myllymaa, the work package leader in activities aimed to develop and validate new wearable sleep monitoring systems.

The overall budget of the project exceeds 2 million euros, of which the cost of the research activities at the University of Eastern Finland is 755,828 euros. Business Finland covers 453,000 euros of this amount and 82,000 euros is corporate finance. Research funding was awarded by the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova), the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNÍS), Innovation Fund Denmark, Business Finland Innovation Fund and the Research Council of Norway in cooperation with NordForsk. The research period to be funded is 1.1.2019-31.12.2022. The members of the research consortium are the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio University Hospital, Landspitali - the National University Hospital of Iceland (Iceland), Reykjavik University (Iceland), Akershus University Hospital (Norway) and the Icelandic Institute for Intelligent Machines (Iceland). The commercial partners are Nokia Solutions and Networks Ltd, CGI Finland Ltd, Nox Medical (Iceland), Bittium Biosignals Oy, Screentec Oy, Nukute Oy and Drowzee AS (Norway).

 

The project is looking for new skilled project researchers. For further information about open research positions, please contact:

Professor, Chief Physicist Juha Töyräs, Ph.D., Tel. +358-44-355 2026, juha.toyras@uef.fi
Senior Researcher Timo Leppänen, Ph.D., Tel. +358-44-532 6362, timo.leppanen@kuh.fi
Docent, Senior Researcher Sami Myllymaa, Ph.D., Tel. +358-40-557 2499, sami.myllymaa@uef.fi

 

This release was first published 23 January 2019 by the University of Eastern Finland. 

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