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Scope 40 - Why are some people more prone to gout?

16 October 2009

The goal of our cancer immune therapy and infectious diseases research is to turn on the immune system.  To treat gout however, we need to turn it off.

Described as the "King of diseases and disease of Kings," gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis and is caused by the build-up of crystals of uric acid in and around the joints.  The immune system reacts to the crystals as if they were viruses or bacteria and it is the resulting inflammation that leads to pain.

In 2006 the Arthritis & Inflammation Group launched a Gouty Arthritis clinical study to determine why some individuals are more prone to developing the disease than others.  The study, which has now been completed, revealed that the immune cells isolated from gout patients may be ‘primed' to respond to gout causing uric acid crystals, releasing higher levels of inflammation-causing agents that contribute to disease onset and severity.

The results will provide the basis for the development of new preventative strategies aimed at blocking this priming phenomenon for improved management of gout.