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Approved Research

Synergistic effects of facial, oro-pharynx and brain shape in individuals reporting sleep apnoea, causal pathways with associated medical co-morbidities and investigating shared gene functions.

Principal Investigator: Dr Peter Claes
Approved Research ID: 88320
Approval date: February 16th 2023

Lay summary

Obstructive sleep apnoea (breathing stops and starts during sleep) is a serious condition that affects a ¼ of the population, and the prevalence increases to more than ¾ of the elderly population. Sleep apnoea may cause other health complications leading to early death and consequently has a significant financial burden on society. We know that patients with sleep disorder breathing show a difference in the shape of the face, brain and oro-pharynx compared to individuals who do not have sleep disordered breathing.  There is a close relationship between face shape and brain shape. A study has highlighted over 30 genes that are associated with sleep apnoea, which are also associated with other health conditions and facial shape. This study will be the first to detail the genetic foundations of sleep apnoea associated with potentially robust diagnostic shape features of the facial surface, brain, and oro-pharynx.  We will also determine which health conditions, and lifestyle factors occur as a result of sleep apnoea, and which may cause sleep apnoea. The findings of this research may potentially lead to early diagnoses, advice for lifestyle changes and therapeutic interventions for this condition.