Angina drug study boosted by scholarship

Thursday, 13 February 2003

A University of Adelaide researcher who is studying an increasingly prescribed drug used to treat the common heart condition angina has become the first South Australian to receive the Freemason's Medical Research Scholarship.

The Masonic Foundation (the charitable arm of the Freemasons of South Australia and Northern Territory) is generously funding a "top-up" scholarship of $15,000 over three years to support PhD students undertaking medical research at the University of Adelaide.

The inaugural Freemason's Medical Research Scholarship is to be awarded to Mr Ben Davies, a PhD student in the University's Department of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology.

Mr Davies, 29, from Goodwood, received a Bachelor of Science degree with First Class Honours in 2002. For his Honours project he investigated the anti-anginal drug perhexiline. His PhD studies, undertaken at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's Department of Clinical Pharmacology, will further investigate perhexiline.

Perhexiline has been available in Australia for the treatment of angina for more than 30 years, and is recommended for patients who continue to suffer angina despite medical and surgical treatment. However, because of the way different people metabolise the drug, perhexiline treatment can potentially lead to toxic levels in the blood. Australia is one of only a handful of countries to prescribe this drug for treatment.

"Perhexiline is an effective drug for the treatment of angina, but it does pose some risk to the patient, and frequent monitoring of its concentration in blood is a condition of its prescription," says Mr Davies.

"The difficulty is ensuring that a sufficient level of the drug is present to control angina without exposing the patient to potential toxicity. I'm studying the genetic factors that govern perhexiline metabolism in the body, and I hope that the results of my study will help to suggest simpler and safer prescription of perhexiline for patients.

"This has the potential to reduce the financial burden of perhexiline monitoring on the public healthcare system and make perhexiline a safer treatment option for patients in other countries," Mr Davies says.

Ben Davies will officially receive his Freemason's Medical Research Scholarship at the Masonic Centre on Friday, February 14.


Contact Details

Ben Davies
PhD student
Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology
Business: +61 8 8222 6524