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Gout Genes Identified

Pain and Disability

As anyone with gout can attest, the disease complicates life with pain and disability, and brings along with it the necessity to avoid certain foods and beverages. New findings relating to gout are very welcome to gout sufferers, since every new piece of information might be the one that leads to the eradication of this painful condition. The newest findings speak to the role of heredity and genetics in those who find themselves afflicted with the condition. We knew that gout ran in families, and now we have proof thanks in large measure to Caroline S. Fox, M.D MPH, NHLBI (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute) project officer and one of the senior authors of the new study and Christopher J. O'Donnell, M.D., MPH, scientific director of SHARe (SNP Health Association Resource) and senior advisor to the NHLBI director for genetics and genomics.

Excess Uric Acid

Medical researchers have managed to identify two new genes that may lead to an increased risk of developing excess levels of uric acid in the blood. This rise in uric acid levels is a contributory factor for gout, a painful and common form of arthritis. In addition, the researchers were able to confirm that a third gene also plays a role in determining who is at risk for developing high blood levels of uric acid and the subsequent development of gout.

Researchers found that these three genetic variations, when seen in combination, can be linked to an increased risk of 40 times that of the general population for developing gout. These findings promise to be a boon in genetic testing which may be used to weed out potential gout victims before symptoms strike and to help physicians to ascertain which patients might benefit from preventative medications for the condition.

Scientists culled their results through the use of data from two large genetic studies involving 7,700 participants from the NHLBI's Framingham Heart Study SHARe as well as some 4,100 participants in NOW's (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) Rotterdam Study. At this point, the erstwhile scientists worked to duplicate their results based on data from almost 14,900 subjects participating in the NHLBI's Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC).

An estimated 3 million Americans have gout. The condition develops as the result of uric acid build-up in the blood. This uric acid begins to form crystals which accumulate in the joints and lead to swollen joints and severe pain. When left untreated, gout can cause permanent damage to the joints, and may also damage the kidneys.