Gout could be prevented by an new anti-inflammatory drug for heart disease, a new study suggests.
Gout is a type of arthritis in which small crystals form inside and around the joints and cause sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling.
It’s estimated between one and two in every 100 Britons mainly men over 30 and post-menopausal women are affected.
It can be extremely painful and debilitating,
Now a new study suggested relief may be at hand with the new drug that targets a key inflammatory molecule.
The findings were made during a cardiovascular disease clinical trial designed to test whether canakinumab, which targets interleukin-1β, could reduce risk of a future cardiovascular event.
Patients with cardiovascular disease often complain of a sudden, piercing pain, stiffness or tenderness in a joint that lasts for days at a time with all signs pointing to a gout attack.
The two appear to be intimately linked and are frequently seen together although the underlying connection between the two remains unclear.
The trial CANTOS (Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcomes Study) recruited 10,000 heart attack survivors who, despite aggressive care, had persistently elevated levels of the inflammatory biomarker high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP).
Information on gout attacks and levels of baseline serum urate concentrations (a measure associated with the production of monosodium urate crystals that form in joints, tendons, kidneys and elsewhere) was collected.
Professor Dr Daniel Solomon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a 793-bed teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School said: “By looking across diseases, we’re trying to put together a picture of the relationship between gout, cardiovascular disease and inflammation.
“There’s a long-held understanding that gout and cardiovascular disease travel together. We’re using data from the CANTOS trial to understand why.”
It found a significant reduction in risk of gout attacks among patients who received the drug that targets a key inflammatory molecule.
Over the course of the trial, three per cent of participants taking the placebo had a gout attack.
This percentage was reduced by half among participants taking the IL-1β blocker.
Serum urate levels remained unchanged over time, suggesting that, importantly, the drug was acting on an independent mechanism to reduce risk of a gout attack.
Prof Solomon concluded: “Our results suggest that targeting IL-1β could open up new therapeutic avenues for not only treating heart disease but also crystal diseases like gout.”
Canakinumab, manufactured by Novartis, has been shown in previous research studies to shorten the length of gout attacks but has not been approved by the FDA for gout treatment.
Additional studies are ongoing to test the effectiveness of less expensive drugs, including generics, that target inflammation.
The study was published online in Annals of Internal Medicine.