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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Groundbreaking research seeks better treatment

A world-first clinical trial to find better treatment for a debilitating genetic condition is under way in Lake Macquarie.

GenesisCare and Hunter Hand Surgery have begun recruiting 30 patients to 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.

Also known as Viking’s Disease, from its northern European ancestry, Dupuytren’s can severely affect hand mobility, impacting everyday tasks such as writing, getting dressed, and shaking hands.

It affects the fascia, the fibrous layer of tissue underneath the skin of the palm and fingers, creating scar tissue (nodules and cords) to develop and cause clawing of one or more fingers.

Famous sufferers include Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Bill Nighy.

Estimated to affect about 17% of Australians, the disease is most commonly seen in men over 40.

Seventeen patients have so far joined the trial, which seeks to 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 surgeon, Dr Brett McClelland, 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 welcomes both 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, says 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 says.

“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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