Quilt To Spread Message About Sleep
Sleepy Seeds—a small greeting card company with a grassroots mission of planting awareness about narcolepsy and the importance of sleep, education, and advocacy—is looking for artistic people to help make a quilt.

The goal is to display the quilt during National Sleep Awareness Week—sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation—in the spring of 2004 and at various locations throughout the remainder of the year to bring sleep issues to the public.

Submissions must be 7 x 7-inch squares of off-white natural muslin. Precut squares are available as well. The company encourages participants to decorate the patches with sleep-related messages and/or artwork. Michelle Hemingway, owner of Sleepy Seeds, recommends using appliqué, embroidery, fabric paint (puffy paint is too sticky), fabric crayons, fabric markers, iron-ons, or stencils. It is very important to leave a half-inch margin on all sides of the square, Hemingway says.

To help defray materials and exhibiting expenses, the company requests a $5 minimum donation per square. Checks can be made payable to Sleepy Seeds. The submission deadline is November 30, and the squares should be mailed to Michelle Hemingway, PO Box 70, Sturbridge, MA 01566.

Novation Awards Masimo Pulse Oximetry Contract
Due to a contract partnership with Irving, Tex-based Novation—a supply chain management company—Irvine, Calif-based Masimo Corp now offers its Signal Extraction Technology (SET) to the more than 2,300-member health care organizations of VHA and University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC). VHA and UHC members can access Masimo’s full line of sensors and pulse oximeters, including the latest Masimo SET V4 technology. The contract became effective September 1 and will last for 2 years and 4 months.

The contract comes alongside a report indicating that in the first half of 2003 Masimo’s SET® Radical pulse oximetry unit sales grew by more than 85% compared to the first half of 2002. The report also showed that sales of Masimo SET LNOP single-patient adhesive pulse oximetry sensors grew by more than 50%. As of the end of June 2003, the cumulative shipments of Masimo SET pulse oximetry systems had topped 125,000.

Study Finds Higher Frequency of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Hispanic Children
Hispanic children are more likely to suffer from snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, and witnessed sleep apnea than non-Hispanic white children, according to a study published in the July issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

In an examination of parental reports for 556 non-Hispanic white children and 658 Hispanic children, the authors also discovered that sleep-dis-ordered breathing was associated with learning problems in school-age children—regardless of race or gender. However, the Hispanic boys in the study were more likely to have excessive daytime sleepiness and learning problems than the Hispanic girls and non-Hispanic white boys and girls.

The University of Ari-zona College of Medicine and the University of Minnesota School of Medicine researchers ob-tained the parental surveys from the Tucson Children’s Assessment of Sleep Apnea Study.

Researchers Discover Sleep Apnea Drug
An antidepressant significantly reduced the symptoms of sleep apnea in subjects participating in a controlled clinical trial conducted at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

The drug, called mirtazapine, blocks the activity of serotonin, which is involved in regulating mood, emotion, appetite, and sleep. It cut the apnea/hypopnea indexes of all 12 subjects by approximately half and reduced sleep fragmentation by 28%. The study was funded by West Orange, NJ-based Organon Inc, which markets mirtazapine as Remeron for the treatment of depression.

Taj M. Jiva, MD, FACP, FCCP, of the Buffalo Medical Group PC, Buffalo, NY, wrote an article in the May/June 2002 issue of Sleep Review about the relationship between antidepressant drugs and REM sleep (“Pharmacological Effects on REM”). Jiva says that mirtazapine “absolutely” could work because blocking serotonin decreases REM sleep, which is when sleep apneic episodes occur. Jiva also noted that it most likely would have to be used in conjunction with continuous positive airway pressure therapy.

In order for the drug to get approval for sleep apnea from the US Food and Drug Administration, mirtazapine will likely have to undergo one or two larger clinical trials. If all goes well, it could be 2 to 3 years before the drug is available for general treatment.

Lack of Iron May Cause Restless Legs Syndrome
Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine and John Hopkins University performed the first autopsy analysis of the brains of people with restless legs syndrome (RLS). Led by James Connor, PhD, professor and interim chair, Department of Neuroscience and Anatomy, Penn State College of Medicine, the researchers discovered that RLS appears to be caused by cells in a portion of the midbrain that are not receiving enough iron.

Although dietary iron supplements provide relief for some patients, they may not be the most accurate solution to the problem, according to Connor. This is because his research indicates that RLS patients are missing the receptor that transports iron to that particular area of the brain. Therefore, although the patients may be getting enough iron in their diet, the brain receives only enough to keep cells alive—not necessarily the amount needed to function optimally.

Currently, there are no drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat RLS. However, Connor hopes that further research on other potential breakdowns in the iron packaging and transport system to this part of the brain will lead to a diagnostic test and a potential target for therapy.