Waikato Hospital staff members are joining an international study on gout and its causes.
Rheumatologist Dr Douglas White and laboratory senior scientist Sean Munroe are leading the hospital's involvement, which they hope will see better diagnosis and treatment of gout. T
he painful joint disease affects 1-2 per cent of the population.
Gout is usually characterised by attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis - a red, tender, hot, swollen joint, often in the big toe.
It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid crystallises, and the crystals deposit in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.
Waikato Hospital laboratory and staff last week passed a qualifying test, confirming they were up to international standard.
Waikato's role involves the study of synovial fluids taken from joints, and will include looking at genetic markers and biochemical issues.
They are expected to start collecting samples for the study early next year.
"This really is a big study and to be involved in worldwide collaboration is quite exciting," Mr Munroe, said.
"We are relishing our role in this study. It's really good to get into studies like this - you have to have a level of expertise to be invited."
Teams from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are also involved.