An investigational CPAP alternative that uses tetanus toxin molecules to potentially treat sleep-disordered breathing is being unveiled at a global biotech innovation event this week.

Developed by Australia’s RMIT University in collaboration with Snoretox Pty Ltd, the patented muscle toning technology is being presented for the first time at the virtual Bio Digital gathering of the global biotech industry, held June 8-12.

The prototype technology is based on molecules of tetanus toxin, modified to ensure they work around the tetanus vaccine, which usually prevents the toxin from affecting the body.

Just as Botox uses tiny amounts of botulinum toxin to relax muscles, this new therapeutic uses minute amounts of tetanus toxin to effectively achieve the opposite—muscle toning.

The developers say the technology could potentially be used to treat many low tone muscle conditions such as incontinence, snoring, and floppy eyelids; alleviate symptoms of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, and myopathy; and be applied for cosmetic and veterinary conditions.

Snoretox director and adjunct professor Tony Sasse, FRACP, MBBS, MD, says in a release, “There are currently no drugs available, so people with moderate or severe sleep apnea have no alternative except to wear a mask and hose while they sleep.

“Our modified tetanus toxin molecules offer real and effective treatment choices for patients, and we anticipate the vast majority would love to get rid of their CPAPs.

“With further development, this brand-new class of therapeutics will offer a game-changing alternative to the millions of people suffering low tone muscle conditions around the globe.”

The technology has been in development for over 15 years, led by RMIT School of Science biotechnologist and professor Peter Smooker.

“Our biggest challenge was getting around the effects of the tetanus vaccine, which blocks the toxin from working,” Smooker says. “The results of our lab and pre-clinical trials show the modified tetanus toxin molecules we’ve developed are safe, targeted and effective.”

Following successful animal trials, researchers are now seeking regulatory approval to conduct clinical trials and bring the patented technology to market.

The therapeutics have been trademarked Snoretox (for sleep apnea) and Tonetox (for other applications).

The research was supported by Australian Research Council Linkage grants and RMIT Enabling Capability Platform funding.

The Snoretox presentation will be available on-demand to registered participants during Bio Digital.

According to the company’s June 2020 pitch deck, the timeline hopes for phase 1 human trials to start in 2022.