What is Gout and What Causes It?
Gout can be a very painful condition and it affects more than 2 million people in the US alone. The causes of gout stem from a build up of uric acid which form crystals and are lodged in the joints and tendons. They provoke an immune response and affected areas become red and swollen. Attacks can last for days and are usually treated with drugs, such as a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). But more effective treatments could be round the corner as genetics research can uncover the underlying causes of the condition.
Genes and Gout Information
In this new study scientists found three genes that could greatly increase the risk of someone suffering from gout. One of the genes had already been associated with gout and the other two are completely new genes for gout.
The three genes they fingered were - ABCG2, SLC17A3 and SLC2A9.
The researchers involved in the study were from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Hopkins, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Their genetics research was published in The Lancet.
What Genes are Responsible for Gout
The researchers looked at the DNA of 11,800 people and the findings were confirmed with a separate group of around 14,000 individuals.
The scientists were on the hunt for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were linked to high uric acid levels. And SNPs associated with uric acid were tested to see if there was an association with gout.
It was found that the three genes were involved in urate transport, and the problem with gout patients is that they cannot get rid of uric acid in the way they should. So somehow the effect of having a single nucleotide change on each of these genes affects the way that the body disposes of uric acid. Scientists calculated that if an individual had all three gene variants, the risk of contracting gout increased by up to 40 times.
Future Gout Treatments?
Though it will take some time for any therapeutic to be derived from the basic genetic knowledge gained form this research, it is hoped that new medications could be developed to target the disease more effectively. It could also encourage the creation of genetic tests to screen those who may be at increased risk, long before the symptoms manifest.