Uni needs volunteers for research


SOUTHERN Cross University's NatMed-Research unit is looking for volunteers to participate in a research study into the effects of a seaweed supplement on osteoarthritis of the knee.

The study is being conducted by Professor Stephen Myers and Dr Ann Mulder and follows on from earlier trials which indicated the seaweed extract may be as effective as conventional drugs in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

"The medication to be tested, developed by Tasmanian company Marinova, has recently been shown to significantly reduce the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis," Professor Myers said.

"This follow-up study is much larger and is expected to confirm the effects of the seaweed preparation on people suffering osteoarthritis."

The researchers are looking for 150 participants from across the Mid North and North Coast region to participate in the trial.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability and, as the populations of the developed world continue to age, the prevalence of the condition will significantly increase. Arthritis currently affects approximately one in six Australians and is the most frequent cause of disability among adults in the developed world.

"Current standard clinical practice is to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), but these have a high side effect profile. Each year there are substantive number of hospitalisations in Australia for gastric bleeding, induced by these agents, and a number of deaths," Professor Myers said.

"Our goal is to find a treatment that provides a safer, but equally effective alternative treatment."

Participants will be able to attend clinical meetings in Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay or Tweed Heads.

Professor Myers said the risks involved were likely to be small, while the potential benefit large.

"This research may help to pioneer a new approach to this condition and in doing so reduce the more substantial risks associated with the current standard therapy of NSAIDS," he said.

The research is funded by Marinova Pty Ltd and is being conducted independently by Southern Cross University.

If you experience moderate levels of pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee and would like to know more about the study please contact the study coordinator Dr Ann Mulder at osteoarthritis@scu.edu.au or phone 0418 111 597.

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