Florida Patent of the Month – July 2023

If you’ve ever lived with someone who snores loudly, you understand how disruptive this can be. Breathing disorders, such as snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), affect millions of people worldwide and some can be quite dangerous. LinguaFlex LLC, an innovative medical device company, has developed a novel treatment solution for sleep apnea and snoring. Their implantable tissue retractor is set to revolutionize the treatment of breathing disorders by repositioning soft tissue in the oral cavity and pharynx, providing relief and improving patients’ quality of life.

Most sleep disorders are the result of too much soft tissue in the throat. As a result of the way human throats and upper airways are naturally anatomically laid out, the upper airway is more prone to collapse under negative pressure. During sleep, muscle tone decreases, increasing the potential for the airway to collapse, ultimately leading to snoring or other sleep disorders.

LinguaFlex’s implantable tissue retractor effectively counteracts the deformation of soft tissue caused by negative airway pressure during sleep. The device is designed to be inserted into the tongue, a critical area in the development of obstructive sleep apnea. By retracting and supporting the soft tissue, the device prevents airway obstruction, effectively treating breathing disorders.

Unlike existing treatments such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or invasive surgical procedures, LinguaFlex’s implantable tissue retractor offers a minimally invasive approach. The device consists of three components: a linear shaft, a retractor member, and an anchor member. These components are integrally formed to create a single continuous flexible structure. The device is implanted within the soft tissue of the tongue, exerting a counterforce sufficient to prevent tissue deformation while allowing for natural movement during speech and swallowing.

One of the key advantages of LinguaFlex’s device is its adjustability and removability. Once the initial insertion is performed by a healthcare professional, the patient can adjust the tension of the device to optimize its effectiveness and comfort. The device can also be easily removed by the patient during the day and reinserted at night, providing flexibility and convenience.

The implantable tissue retractor offers additional benefits beyond its primary function. The device serves as a conduit through the tongue, providing a pathway for equalizing air pressure between the oral and pharyngeal cavities, thereby preventing breathing difficulties. It can also be utilized for medical interventions, such as suctioning secretions, passing feeding tubes, or performing endoscopic surgical procedures in the pharyngeal region.

LinguaFlex’s device has the potential to accommodate therapeutic equipment, such as neuroprosthetic sensors and stimulators. These additions could enhance swallowing or speech function by stimulating the tongue nerves or muscles. The device can even house diagnostic instruments or deliver local medications, improving treatment options for various conditions, including periodontal disease, oral candidiasis, diabetes, and even cancer therapy.

With its innovative design and multifunctional capabilities, LinguaFlex’s implantable tissue retractor marks a significant advancement in the field of sleep medicine. The device addresses the critical issue of soft tissue deformation in the tongue, offering a targeted and effective solution for individuals suffering from breathing disorders. By providing relief and improving airway stability, LinguaFlex’s invention has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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