On Gout Awareness Day, Let’s Put the Myths to Rest

JIANGSU, China–()–Atom Bioscience (Jiangsu Atom Bioscience and Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.), a clinical stage biotechnology company developing new treatments for metabolic and inflammatory diseases, such as gout, is marking Gout Awareness Day, May 22, 2022, by drawing attention to the real causes of this destructive disease, and dispelling old myths about overindulgence that can stigmatize gout patients.

“Gout is a genetic disease,” noted N. Lawrence Edwards, M.D., a rheumatologist, gout expert, and Vice Chairman and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Florida. “It runs in families and occurs in family members who are and are not obese,” he added. “Physically fit can people get gout, and many obese people do not get gout.”

Dr. Edwards, an adviser to Atom Bioscience and chairman of the Gout Education Society, continued, “Several centuries ago gout switched from being a disease of the rich and famous to being inversely related to a person’s socio-economic status.” The lower a person’s socio-economic status, the more likely he or she is to be exposed to environmental factors which exacerbate the disease.

Gout is one of the most common types of inflammatory arthritis. It is caused by a long-term condition known as hyperuricemia, the excessive build-up of uric acid in the blood (> 7 mg/dL). Uric acid is the human end-product of purine (nucleic acid component of DNA) metabolism and is produced normally by the body during tissue remodeling and breakdown. Part of uric acid is derived from purines ingested in food. Causes of hyperuricemia can be divided into two major categories: decreased clearance of uric acid from the body or increased production of uric acid. The resulting excessive build-up of uric acid is caused by genetic mutations in uric acid transport mechanisms in the kidney and bowel, explained Dr. Edwards. When the transporters don’t function, uric acid is not properly excreted from the body.

Excessive uric acid can lead to the formation of crystals in and around joints, most often in the lower extremities. These crystals can result in a sudden flaring of inflammation unleashing what Dr. Edwards described as “teeth-chattering” pain occurring most often at night.

Despite the fact gout is a global health problem, Dr. Edwards observed, it is not an emphasized disease. “A lot of it has to do with these false beliefs and that if you treat the symptoms, the painful flares that are the hallmark of the disease, you’re treating gout,” he added. “The real treatment of gout is to lower uric acid below a point where people form crystals. To do this we have to lower the uric acid to less than 6 mg/dL, and maintain it there for the rest of a patient’s life.”

So why take gout more seriously? More than 55 million people suffer from gout worldwide and its prevalence is increasing yearly. Over 9.3 million people in the U.S suffer from the disease, and the annual cost to the U.S. health care system is tens of billions of dollars. Current treatments are often inadequate.

For gout patients, Dr. Edwards said, if uric acid levels are not controlled, over time the disease can destroy their joints causing severe disability, loss of employment, and constant pain.

In addition to mythology, another problem is lack of effective uric acid lowering treatments for all patients. Existing drugs work for many patients, Dr. Edwards observed, but for some others, the side effects are too toxic.

“There are multiple approaches to the treatment of gout being looked at by the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “Not all will make it. But I’m hopeful we’re getting closer to that ‘magic pill’ that all gout sufferers could take to get to the target uric acid level that we proselytize.”

In the meantime, Dr. Edwards said, “It’s important that every time we get the opportunity to talk about gout that we do our best to dispel the myths that are out there on the Internet with common sense science-based information.”

About Atom Bioscience

Atom Bioscience (Jiangsu Atom Bioscience and Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.) is a fast-growing innovative drug company, focused on development of best in class small molecule therapeutics for treatment of inflammatory and metabolic diseases. The company’s lead product, ABP-671, is in clinical development for treatment of chronic gout. For more information please visit: https://atombp.us/

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