$34,578 in funding for gout research

Research which could lead to new treatments for gout is among six University of Otago projects to receive a total of $150,103 in funding from the Otago Medical Research Foundation.

The research by Dr Cushla McKinney and Associate Prof Tony Merriman received a $34,578 grant from the foundation.

Prof Merriman said the project would look at gene called TLR4, which is thought to influence gout susceptibility among people who carry the gene.

The project would involve examining how the gene increased gout susceptibility, which in turn could lead to new ways to treat gout.

''What we are trying to do is develop treatments that target the root cause of that gout inflammation, rather than be a general sledgehammer, bash-the-pain-type approach,'' he said.

This could provide insight into the role of the immune system in the development of gout and potentially confirm TLR4 as a new therapeutic target for treatment or prevention.

It could lead to treatments that worked for people who were resistant to other treatments for gout.

The other projects to receive funding from the foundation's Laurenson and Jack Thomson Arthritis Awards were.-Research into the benefits of rehabilitation exercises for treating shoulder osteoarthritis ($10,127); research examining ''pre-habilitation'' or pre-operation exercise programmes for hip-replacement patients ($26,320); research investigating treatments to prevent brain injury caused by extreme prematurity ($29,931); research looking into the utilisation of nanotechnology for improving the treatment of pancreatic cancer ($19,882); research into the use of a novel combination drug therapy for the treatment of aggressive prostate cancer ($29,265).