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University of Edinburgh Summary: Scientists have shed light on why some people are more susceptible to gout than others. A study has identified 18 new genetic variations that increase levels of uric acid in the blood, which is the main cause of the disease.

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High levels of uric acid form small crystals in joints and tissues, causing pain and swelling -- the main symptoms of the condition once known as the 'disease of kings'. Understanding how these common genetic variants increase uric acid levels in the blood may lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of the disease.

It could also help research into urate-lowering drugs. Cancer genetic causes international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary, University of London, say gout is becoming more common in the developed world.

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They attribute cancer genetic causes rise cancer genetic causes part to increasing levels of obesity and an aging population. This painful joint inflammation affects at least one in seventy adults in the UK with approximatelypeople suffering at least one attack of gout in their lifetime.

The work, published in Nature Genetics, was carried out by analysing the genetic data of more thanpeople, from more than 70 individual studies from Europe, the U. Dr Veronique Vitart, from the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, and one of the lead authors of the study said: "Abnormal levels of uric acid have been associated with various common diseases and conditions, but causal relationships are not always clear.

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Gaining insight into the genetic components of uric acid levels offers a very useful tool to tackle these issues and to further our understanding of these conditions. Our findings identify new potential mechanisms for gout and offer opportunities for new therapies which may improve prevention of this debilitating condition in the future.

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Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Journal Reference: Köttgen et al. Genome-wide association analyses identify 18 new loci associated with serum urate concentrations.

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Nature Genetics, ; DOI: