Doctors graft genetically modified skin on seven-year-old suffering from devastating disorder

11 November 2017

Doctors have given a seven-year-old Syrian boy who was suffering from a devastating genetic disorder, a replacement, genetically modified skin to cover almost the entire body.

According to commentators, the treatment marked a rare and striking success for the field of regenerative medicine, which has been struggling to transform futuristic-sounding science into therapies that make a difference to patients. The success means the life of the young boy, whose illness had come close to killing him has been transformed.

Before the surgery, the boy had lost 80 per cent of his kin that had left him covered in untreatable, infected wounds. He was on morphine to relieve the pain and his doctors were preparing to start palliative treatment after all conventional therapies had failed.

According to professor CÚdric Blanpain, a stem cell scientist at the Free University of Brussels, the work as one of the most impressive examples to date of the use of stem cells in humans. ''There are very few diseases that have benefitted so far,'' he said. ''This is a beautiful example of something that was unthinkable before the study. To replace and gene-correct the whole skin of a patient is just amazing.''

According to Claire Higgins, a lecturer of bioengineering at Imperial College London, the trial was ''a huge achievement and quite remarkable''.

The boy, Hassan, who lives in Germany, suffers from a genetic condition - junctional epidermolysis bullosa - that leaves his skin as fragile as a butterfly's wings.

Doctors took a piece of his skin, repaired its DNA in the laboratory and the modified skin was grafted back on.

Nearly two years later, the new skin appears completely normal. The full details of the family have not been released in order to protect their privacy, but Hassan's father said the transformation was "like a dream".

"Hassan feels like a normal person now, he plays, he's being active, he's enjoying his life and he's not the way he was before," he said, BBC reported

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