Spencer Trask a privately held advanced technology development firm, has announced the sale of ImThera Medical, a privately owned company focused on neurostimulation for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The company was purchased by LivaNova, a market-leading, medical technology company, as part of a transaction valued at approximately $225 million. Spencer Trask & Co. co-founded ImThera with Marcello Lima in keeping with the company's long tradition of helping develop innovative healthcare solutions that treat important medical conditions.

ImThera designed and developed a non-drug therapy for OSA that cyclically and continuously stimulates six muscles of the tongue via an implantable device.

This therapy received its European CE mark in March 2012 and is currently being tested as part of a 141 patient Phase III clinical trial in the U.S. Led by Alan R. Schwartz, MD at Johns Hopkins University, the clinical trial is expected to be completed by March 2018.

"This transaction with LivaNova accelerates the ImThera mission of providing its life-changing therapy to the millions of Americans who are living with obstructive sleep apnea," said Spencer Trask & Co. Chairman Kevin Kimberlin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies insufficient sleep as a "public health epidemic," noting that one third of U.S. adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep.

Victims of OSA stop breathing during the night, sometimes several hundred times. This often undiagnosed condition is a major contributor to neurocognitive, metabolic and cardiovascular disease and may affect as many as 25 million Americans.

ImThera developed a programmable chip which stimulates the hypoglossal nerve that supplies the muscles of the tongue with signals from the brain. By so doing, the ImThera implant keeps the air passageway open throughout the night.

According to a retrospective study published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease (Feb. 2016), individuals suffering from OSA face between a 35% and 85% higher mortality rate compared to healthy people.

Approximately 50% of those with sleep apnea suffer from hypertension, a contributing factor in the approximately 38,000 annual cardiovascular deaths (high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke) attributed to the disease.

Kimberlin added, "This is a prime example of the Spencer Trask & Co. mission in action, transforming the standard of care for conditions that affect millions of people." Spencer Trask & Co. is known for discovering and bringing to market technical solutions that improve the human condition.