Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Kiwi drug to help gout sufferers...

A sore and swollen toe is the telltale sign of gout, which affects more than 45,000 New Zealanders

A New Zealand research company has invented a new drug which it hopes will help the millions of people worldwide who suffer from gout.

The drug has just begun clinical trials in humans with the debilitating disease and if it is successful it could bring millions of dollars into the New Zealand economy.

A sore and swollen toe is the telltale sign of gout, which affects more than 45,000 New Zealanders.

But a home grown research team headed by Richard Furneaux has invented a new treatment which it hopes will bring more effective relief to those affected in New Zealand and overseas.

“It may turn out as effective or more effective and easier to take and will have less side effects,” he says.

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood which causes crystals to form in joints.

Mr Furneaux says inflammation then causes a sort of arthritis.

“It's very painful and quite crippling,” he says.

The new drug aims to prevent uric acid being formed.

Human trials of around 200 gout patients are currently underway in 20 hospitals across the United States.

Gout is the third most common form of acute arthritis in New Zealanders.

Sandra Kirby, chief executive of Arthritis NZ, says in some centres it is the leading cause of people missing work.

“There's some studies in Counties-Manukau where incidence are very high which shows that it's one of the leading causes of people taking time off work,” she says.

“So you can imagine if your foot is swollen and sore, your hand is swollen and sore, and then working, walking, many of the things that are good for you become impossible.”

The seven year project is a combined effort between Kiwi company Industrial Research Limited and an American company which has injected more than $200 million into IRL's research.

“We're hoping that more and more of this will be done here and so we can actually have a pharmaceutical development industry in New Zealand,” says Mr Furneaux.

There are already effective treatments for the illness but 5 percent of gout patients can't tolerate them.

It's hoped this treatment will not only suit everyone but will also lead to other significant drug developments.

Acknowledgements: 3 News, Charotte Tonkin,

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