World-first clinical trial to help sufferers of debilitating hand disease

A groundbreaking collaborative research project to find better treatment for Dupuytren’s disease, is underway at Lake Macquarie.

Dupuytren’s disease is a genetic and disabling condition that can severely affect mobility in the hands.

GenesisCare and Hunter Hand Surgery have begun recruiting 30 patients who will take part in the first phase of the DEPART Study (Dupuytren’s disease: Evaluation of Preventative and Adjuvant and RadioTherapy), to determine whether radiotherapy can improve treatment.

Dupuytren’s disease affects the fascia, the fibrous layer of tissue underneath the skin of the palm and fingers, causing scar tissue (nodules and cords) to develop and cause clawing of one or more fingers. It’s estimated to affect 17% of Australians. It is most commonly seen in men over 40, where the hereditary condition’s impairment of finger function can complicate everyday activities including writing, dressing and shaking hands.

Seventeen patients have so far joined the study, which will determine if radiotherapy can be used to effectively manage and prevent the disease from progressing in both the early and later stages.

The study team includes hand surgeons, Dr Brett McClellan, and radiation oncologist, Dr Katherine Neville.

“Current treatments include using needles to break up the scar tissue, enzyme injections to dissolve it, or surgery,” Dr McClelland said.

“Early results suggest that radiotherapy can also be beneficial, so we want to further investigate this finding and hopefully be able to prove its efficacy.”

The DEPART trial is welcoming male and female participants in good health who are over the age of 30 and have been diagnosed with Dupuytren’s Disease. The second phase will include expanding the study globally to 1,120 participants.

GenesisCare’s Centre Leader, Troy Sykes, said that the five year research undertaking is a world-first, and will run alongside the monthly multi-disciplinary clinics where patients can meet and talk with several specialists about treatment options.

“These clinics allow patients to directly connect with a Hand Surgeon, Radiation Oncologist and Hand Therapist – all at the same time and in the one location,” Mr Sykes said.

“Our DEPART Study reflects GenesisCare’s ongoing commitment to designing and delivering better care and treatment for cancer, heart disease and now, various benign conditions.”


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