Ar­ti­fi­cial Skin Saves Boy's Life

Science Illustrated - - SCIENCE UPDATE -

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.

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