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Bone Marrow-Derived Stem Cells May Offer Novel Therapeutic Option for Skin Disorder
Date:12/4/2008

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Stem cells derived from bone marrow may serve as a novel therapeutic option to treat a disease called epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a disorder characterized by extraordinarily fragile skin, according to a study pre-published online in Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology.

Epidermolysis bullosa is a disorder characterized by extraordinarily fragile skin and blistering on touch, akin to third degree burns. While the disease is often lethal in the neonatal period, more severe forms of the disease, such as recessive dystrophic EB (referred to as RDEB), can lead to years of painful blistering and mutilating scarring. The condition is caused by significantly reduced collagen type 7 protein (col7) production, a key component of the anchoring fibrils that connect the cutaneous membranes to the dermis of the skin and mucosal tissues in the gastrointestinal tract. A lack of these fibrils means the dermal-epidermal connection is very sensitive, and any action, which can include simple functions such as walking or eating, and the touch of clothing, creates friction between the skin layers that creates blisters and painful sores.

Children with RDEB, who are often referred to as "butterfly children" because their skin is said to be as sensitive as butterfly wings, develop painful skin and mucosal blistering, mutilating scarring, alopecia (hair loss), and other erosions shortly after birth. As a result of the extreme fragility of the skin and the chronic trauma of friction, RDEB patients often develop squamous cell carcinomas (a form of skin cancer). There is currently no cure for the disease, and palliative care includes complex bandaging, surgical removal of damaged tissue, and nutritional support.

"We have been looking into stem cells as viable treatment options for correction of conditions such as epidermolysis bullosa, because th
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SOURCE American Society of Hematology
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