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New Therapy Straightens Fingers (Dupuytren’s Disease)

Experimental therapy featured here in September 2009 now offers people with Dupuytren’s disease an alternative to surgery.

A first-of-its-kind experimental therapy featured last fall in the Medical Update http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2009/09/19/wellness/medical-update/hand-therapy-advancements.html is the first drug FDA-approved for treating Dupuytren’s, a condition that progressively pulls fingers toward the palm and locks them there.

The new biologic drug Xiaflex is injected into the hand  to weaken and “break” abnormal cords of connective tissue that are hallmarks of the disease, restoring full motion and function of affected hands and fingers.

“Xiaflex is an enzyme that comes from the bacterium called Clostridium histolyticum,” study investigator Dr. Thomas Kaplan explained to the Post. “In Dupuytren’s disease, multiple fibers of collagen run along the cord. When the enzyme is injected into the cord, it starts ‘cutting’ the fibers into progressively smaller fragments, weakening the cord in that section.”

Drug manufacturer Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. expects shipments of Xiaflex to reach physicians in late March 2010. In the past, conventional surgery was the only way to remove Dupuytren’s cords affecting the MP joint (where the finger meets the palm) and the PIP joint (the finger’s middle joint.)

“People with Dupuytren’s contractures that are severe enough to warrant surgical treatment finally have a nonsurgical option to correct their deformities,” reports Dr. Larry Hurst, who led the Xiaflex studies at SUNY Stony Brook where he is a professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics.

Those considering Xiaflex therapy need to consult an expert to discuss the new procedure, its risks, and alternatives, adds Dr. Hurst.

Dupuytren’s contracture is most common among Caucasians (especially those of Northern European descent) over age 50 and tends to run in families.

For more information about Xiaflex and Dupuytren’s disease, click here XIAFLEX (collagenase clostridium histolyticum)| Official Site or call Auxilium at 1-877-942-3539. In the future, the Web site will also feature patient stories and an online tool to locate trained specialists in your area.

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