Using stem cell technology, scientists were able to grow enough skin to save a child's life. A 7-year-old suffering from junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB), a rare genetic disease, was expected to die. Yet two years removed from the surgery he's alive and can even play sports.
JEB increases the risk of cancer and leads to blisters. The patient lost skin over two-thirds of their body due to a bacterial infection, requiring admission to a burn unit. Doctors struggled to keep him alive and the boy was in significant pain.
Eventually his doctors spoke with Michele de Luca, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Modena. Stem cells were taken and modified to no longer have the genetic disorder. They were then used to grow enough skin to cover nine square feet on the patient.