Stem Cells and Epidermolysis Bullosae

For many years, I was affiliated with the Epidermolysis Bullosae Center at the Rockefeller University Hospital. Epidermolysis bullosae (EB) is a devastating skin blistering disease. Patients with the severe forms have chronic problems with open and potentially life-threatening wounds, scarring, and other deformities. As the plastic surgeon at the EB center, I took care of the surgical problems in their patients. There has recently been an amazing story which has received a lot of media attention about a young boy who had most of his skin replaced using stem cell therapy. The scientists and physicians who treated this boy were able in their laboratory to grow sheets of normal skin from a small patch of the patient’s uninvolved skin. The sheets of skin were then grafted onto the patient who is reportedly now free of symptoms.

My staff and I became very close to many of these patients and their families. As a result, we were not only professional excited, but also personally extremely happy to see this report. This amazing stem cell technology has only been tried on one patient. I profoundly hope that it can be duplicated and expanded to treat all the young patients afflicted with EB.