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Rising interest in Dupuytren's Disease after decades of silence

by Logan Williams September 28, 2020

People know quite a lot about conditions like hypertension and diabetes because they're pervasive in our society. In hand surgery, carpal tunnel syndrome is also known by most of us. But if you mention Dupuytren's disease, nobody will probably know what's it about or what type of ailment it is.

The interest in Dupuytren's disease was not actually widespread until recently. But why is this condition becoming a new hot topic in hand surgery?

Dupuytren's disease as a rare and unknown ailment

For many doctors in med school, Dupuytren's contracture was one of those conditions you needed to know to pass the exam. But after that, no mention of it was made in scientific papers or elsewhere, unless you specialized in hand surgery.

For decades, free papers about Dupuytren's disease were scarce. There were no discoveries, improvements in the disease's therapeutics, and no revolutionary change that renewed the interest in this condition. Doctors had to treat the disease based on very basic research and some obscure histopathology findings.

It was a favorite topic among doctors not because it was common but more as a curious medical fact.

Renewed interest and new therapeutics

Before launching their new collagenase injection for Dupuytren's disease in 2011, Pfizer invited many hand surgeons to a briefing and brainstorming meeting. This event's main topic was a novel therapeutic option that would tentatively replace surgery in Dupuytren's disease. This was finally a revolutionary change after decades, and even though there was significant opposition at first, the drug was released, and the outcomes were promising.

This was a historical moment in hand surgery because it was probably the first time a pharmaceutical company formed a board of doctors and considered whatever hand surgeons said in this meeting. After that, Dupuytren's disease interest in scientific papers rose once again, and there were new events, congresses, symposiums, courses, and even an awareness campaign held in 2012.

Everything was revisited in the following years, including the causes, treatment, outcomes, follow-up, and recurrence of the disease.

What is happening now with Dupuytren's Disease?


The introduction of a novel collagenase injection for Dupuytren's disease was dispersed in most European countries. However, now we know that the injection helps to solve some cases of Dupuytren's disease, but not others. Pfizer's profit was not as high as expected, especially after disclosing possible complications, recurrence rates, and other facts of their new drug.

Collagenase injections are now included as a treatment option, but they are far from being the absolute cure of Dupuytren's disease. More clinical studies are being collected and gradually increasing our understanding of collagenase application, surgery, and other treatment types.

As this knowledge continues to increase, hand surgeons need to apply their own judgment and medical experience to their cases because there's no definitive step-by-step guide on how to treat each case of Dupuytren's disease. In cases such as these, doctors' expertise and experience play an essential role in providing the best options to improve the quality of life of their patients with Dupuytren’s disease.