2million grant gives Leicester research team a helping hand

Joe Dias (pictured), Professor of Hand and Orthopaedic Surgery in our Department of Health Sciences, and his colleagues at Leicester’s Hospitals have been awarded a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) grant of just under £2million for the Dupuytren’s Interventions Surgery vs. Collagenase (DISC) Study.

Dupuytren’s Contracture is the fourth most common problem affecting the hand in the UK. The disorder, occurring mostly in adult men, is caused by fibrous tissue forcing the finger to bend down into the palm of the hand. Although it is rarely painful, patients cannot straighten the finger and this increasingly interferes with hand function.

The most common and accepted treatment method is surgery to straighten the bent finger by removing the fibrous tissue. Each year, surgery is performed on around 17,000 patients in England which costs the NHS over £60 million.

An alternative method to surgery is a newly introduced Collagenase injection which softens the fibrous tissue. Administered in clinic, with a follow up clinic appointment a few days later, the finger is manipulated in an attempt to straighten it.

The DISC study will investigate if the injection is a more effective treatment than surgery and whether the effects are sustained in the long-term.

Professor Dias explains: “The study will see the patient and surgeon agree to use whatever treatment (surgery or collagenase injection) is allocated to them by chance (randomly) by our team. After treatment, patients will be asked to complete several questionnaires over a two-year period to assess how they feel about their hand and the bend in the finger will be measured at regular intervals.”

Nigel Brunskill, Professor of Renal Medicine in our Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation and Director of Research & Innovation at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We are delighted that Professor Dias and his team secured the NIHR HTA award against very strong competition and look forward to supporting them throughout the study.”

  • The University of Leicester conducts fundamental and applied research across all disciplines creating a strong culture of interaction, sharing and learning, helping to deliver an outstanding education for its students.
  • University Hospitals of Leicester press release