Monday, August 16, 2010

Adult stem cells used to treat children with deadly skin disease

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have partially cured 5 children with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB), a genetic skin disorder in which the patient's skin is plagued by painful blisters which can lead to infection and cancer.

With the new treatment, "there was improved healing, fewer blisters, and their quality of life was positively affected. They could do things they couldn't do before, like ride a bicycle or go on a trampoline," said Dr. John Wagner of the University of Minnesota, who worked on the study.

It was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In addition, the patients' improvement progressed with time, he said. All five children who survived showed improvement within 100 days, although the pace varied widely, he said in a telephone interview.