Dupuytren Biomarker Research: Crowdsourcing and Citizen Scientists
*Dupuytren disease* is a chronic progressive disorder affecting tens of millions worldwide. Dupuytren can produce bent finger deformities of *Dupuytren contracture*, a thickening and tightening of the underlying hand tissue. Dupuytren contractures are treated with corrective procedures, but the underlying biology persists, and recurrence is common. Retreatments have greater risk and less success . There is no proven preventive treatment for early disease. Dupuytren disease is a *fibrotic systems biology disorder* [multi-system disorder that causes the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue]. It involves genetic, immune, age, inflammation, gender, mechanobiology [mechanical inputs regulate cell behavior], and epigenetic pathways. It is associated with a variety of other medical disorders and increased risk of malignant tumors. Dupuytren biology can affect hands, feet, penis, and shoulders. Despite this, the overwhelming focus of Dupuytren research remains on the anatomy and correction of Dupuytren-related finger deformities rather than the root biology. Crowdsourcing [the practice of soliciting voluntary contributions from a group of individuals or organizations] is a promising approach for advancing Dupuytren biology research due to the clear scientific benefits it provides including strengthening existing communities of researchers and clinicians, expanding the scientific participation by engaging new organizations and individuals, and providing an additional source of innovation. The number of publications on Dupuytren biology reflects this narrow focus.
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