Wonderful Engineering

This Kid Has Been Saved From A Horrible Skin Condition, Thanks To Genetic Engineering

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His skin has been bursting with those stinging blisters all over his body since the boy had just been a toddler. Soon the blisters became a regular phenomenon as well as the creases on his face that came from the continuous howling due to pain. The diagnosis revealed a glitch in the boy’s LAMB3 gene i.e., his body wasn’t producing enough protein that is needed to join the outer layer of the skin to the inner ones.

Medicines and doctors were successful in keeping the blisters from further spreading for no longer than seven years and then suddenly as if the blisters were eating his body; the boy had lost more than 60% of his skin.

By the end of summer in 2015, the boy, hot with fever and stinking from staph, was brought to the Ruhr University Children’s Hospital in Bochum, Germany. The doctors tried everything, from stuffing him with painkillers and antibiotics to giving him iodine bath. Nothing seemed to lessen his suffering. Transplanting skin from his father didn’t work either. After all the hopes were lost and the boy was dying in the ICU, the doctors decided to perform a genetic experiment that had never been attempted before.

A tiny square of the boy’s skin was snipped out and shipped to a lab in Modena, Italy. The scientists in the lab injected a working LAMB3 gene into the patch of his skin cells using a virus. The cells were then grown until they were enough to fit onto a gauze of nine square feet of gauze, which was more than enough for a kid.

The new skin was sent back to Germany by October, and the doctors carefully replaced the old skin with the new on areas with dead or infected flesh. The next batch arrived in November, and the skin on his back and chest was replaced with the new skin. Any missed spots on his body were treated in January. Seven and a half months later, the boy walked out of the hospital with a brand new wound-free skin. This might be the largest infusion of transgenic stem cells ever done. The boy started school again and now spends his free time playing soccer and getting bruised like any normal kid of his age.