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Chch researchers awarded additional $2.3M funding

News release

5 December 2006


Christchurch researchers awarded additional $2.3M in health research funding

Two Christchurch health research teams have been awarded $2.3M in the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s (HRC) 2006 annual funding round.

The HRC has awarded an additional $2.8M for three new projects through its annual funding round for 2006. A total of $32M has now been awarded to 40 projects in the funding round.

Dr Dee Mangin from the University of Otago’s Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences (CSMHS) and her team have been awarded $1.7M to help identify who and who will not benefit from long term treatment for depression.

Depression (unipolar depressive disorder) is one of the most important causes of disability and death worldwide. Currently, there is little evidence from primary care to clarify if and for whom long term maintenance treatment (antidepressant medication) is beneficial in preventing recurrence of depression.

In a randomised controlled trial involving primary care patients who are currently not experiencing depression, continued treatment versus tapered withdrawal of antidepressants will be tested. The study will further understanding of optimal long term treatment of depression in primary care.

Dr Lisa Stamp and her team, also from CSMHS, will be focusing on improving treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, a common musculoskeletal disease.

The grant worth $0.6M will be used to test a widely used drug called methotrexate. The study will look at how the concentration of the drug in the patient’s blood determines how well they respond to treatment, and whether the patient’s genetic makeup influences this. Different methods of administering the drug will also be tested.

The project could lead to more specific and improved approaches to treating rheumatoid arthritis, in turn resulting in better and safer treatments for this debilitating illness.

“The HRC is delighted to be able to fund the three additional contracts for the 2006 contestable funding round,” says HRC Chief Executive Dr Bruce Scoggins.

“Originally on the reserve list, the three projects were able to be funded once the other approved contracts had been finalised.”

ENDS

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