Artificial Skin Saves Boy's Life
MEDICINE Eighty per cent of Hassan's skin had fallen of his body, which looked like one large open wound caused by fire. Over time, the condition – caused by a rare genetic disease known as epidermolysis bullosa – would kill him due to secondary infection.
A new method was used to save Hassan’s life. First, scientists extracted stem cells from a bit of the boy’s remaining skin. A virus equipped with a healthy version of the LAMB3 gene, which was defective in the boy, was subsequently injected into the stem cells. The genetically modified cells were propagated in a lab, and new, healthy skin was produced. The scientists repeated the process, until they had made and supplied Hassan with about 1 m2 of skin.
7-year-old Hassan has new, genetically modified skin on almost all of his body.