A recent New York Times article highlighted advances in applying stem cell technology to treat skin diseases. These techniques may offer a more advanced method to treating a rare skin disease known as Epidermolysis bullosa (EB for short). EB is a serious and often fatal disease, caused by a missing collagen gene needed to hold skin together. Patients with EB are highly susceptible to skin injury and often wrap their bodies in gauze for protection.
Alfred Lane, MD, a pediatric dermatologist at Stanford, is leading an effort to use stem cells created by “reprogramming” ordinary skin cells to grow treatment grafts. This approach is less controversial than using embryonic stem cells and it would allow researchers to insert the missing gene to grow healthy grafts.