Growth of New Skin Saves Child’s Life
Doctors successfully grow skin to cover 80 percent of the body of a patient suffering from a genetic disease thus, saving his life.
Scientists have long attempted to grow new human skin by means of genetic engineering, however, have not been successful at growing even half a square feet of skin.
According to a study published in the journal Nature, in November 2017, doctors at the Ruhr University collaborated with Michele de Luca, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy, to engineer skin as an attempt to save the life a young boy suffering from a disease called junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB).
JEB is a genetic disorder in which skin mutates causing blister easily and making the patient more susceptible to develop cancer. The boy in the study lost over two-thirds of skin due to development of a bacterial infection leaving him bright red and raw. He was admitted Germany’s Children’s Hospital at Ruhr University.
The team along with de Luca extracted stem cells and immature cells from the boy, as these possess the ability to develop into other types of cells and continue growing. To prevent mutation, they delivered a harmless virus into the normal version of gene and inserted it into the skin cells. The engineered skin along with the stem cells was then used to grow new skin in the laboratory.
Attempts resulted in healthy growth of skin, which was finally grafted back onto the kid’s body. The kid was hospitalized for over eight months, however his recovery has helped him perform activities that any normal kid would, with ease.
The study reveals that a few living stem cells have the ability to grow and maintain skin for a long time. This has been a genetic breakthrough, in which doctors have been able to cover over nine feet of a patient’s body, that was earlier not possible. The patient has been able to live a healthy and normal life even two years from the surgery. This newly discovered skin engineering technique creates potential application for future skin grafting, which could possibly save the lives of many.
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