Can omega-3 fats help prevent side effects associated with initial treatment of gout?

Disease - Crystal arthropathy (gout)

Lead applicant - Dr Abhishek Abhishek

Organisation - University of Nottingham

Type of grant - Clinical Studies

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £162,538

Start date - 1 November 2017

Reference - 21506

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this research is to investigate whether taking omega-3 fatty acids alongside the existing initial treatments for gout can help prevent the unwanted side effects associated with these medicines.

Why is this research important?

Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid which results in urate crystals forming in and around joints. These hard crystals cause “attacks” of painful joint inflammation and can eventually lead to permanent joint damage. Gout can be cured by tablets which lower uric acid levels and slowly dissolve urate crystals deposited in joints. However, many patients discontinue these treatments because they can trigger attacks of gout within the first few months of starting them, and the medicines used to prevent this are poorly tolerated.

Interestingly, findings of several studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids block the mechanisms by which urate crystals cause inflammation and have the potential to prevent gout attacks early in the treatment process. To investigate this further, sixty people with gout and who are eligible to start urate lowering treatment will be recruited to the study. They will then be divided into two groups, with group one receiving omega-3 fatty acid supplements and group two receiving a placebo. After four weeks, the patients will start their urate lowering treatments. Their progress will then be monitored to ensure their treatment is working and to investigate whether the omega-3 fatty acid supplements have helped prevent gout attacks.

How will the findings benefit patients?

If this initial study demonstrates that omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to prevent attacks of gout, the researchers will use the information obtained to perform a larger clinical study to further confirm its benefits. Provided these benefits are confirmed in the larger study, omega-3 fatty acids could be adopted as one of the treatments for preventing attacks of gout in patients starting on urate lowering treatments.