Scientists Grew Totally New Skin for a 7-Year-Old Boy and Saved His Life

From TIME - November 8, 2017

A group of European researchers used stem cell therapy to grow replacement skin for a seven-year-old boy, potentially opening the door to a new class of stem cell treatments in the future.

Since birth, the young patient had suffered skin lesions and blisters as a result of a serious, sometimes-fatal genetic condition called junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB), according to an article published Wednesday in the journal Nature. By 2015, when he was seven, the boy was down to roughly 40% of his skin, and was in a medically induced coma at Childrens Hospital in Bochum, Germany, according to a Nature podcast accompanying the article. A cure seemed unlikelyuntil, that is, his care team contacted Dr. Michele De Luca, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Italys University of Modena.

De Luca decided to try a radical and largely untested strategy: a skin transplant using genetically modified stem cells. It was risky, but it was the only option.


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