Southampton hand surgeons trial revolutionary drug

Hand

Hand surgeons at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are trialling a revolutionary drug that could combat a 177-year-old disease without the need for surgery.

The common condition, known as Dupuytren’s contracture, causes tissue beneath the skin in the hands to thicken, pulling the fingers down permanently into the palm – and surgery is often the only treatment available for sufferers.

But the drug, which was approved for use in the USA last year, dissolves the affected tissue once injected, allowing fingers to be straightened.

In addition, the injection is given in the outpatient clinic without the need for hospital admission.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to study a surgical drug which has the potential to treat patients with this common but troubling condition simply, quickly and safely without the need to enter an operating theatre,” said chief investigator David Warwick, a consultant hand surgeon at Southampton General Hospital.

The Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of four centres across the UK participating in the study.

Dupuytren’s contracture, which was first described in 1834, is believed to run in families and can affect up to 20% of men above 60 and 20% of women over 80.

Around 12,000 operations to correct the condition are performed in the UK each year.

Mr Warwick added: “We hope that successful experience with this drug will lead to it being available to treat NHS patients."

Posted on Thursday 16 June 2011