The Use of Tissue-Engineered Skin (Apligraf) to Treat a Newborn With Epidermolysis Bullosa | Dermatology | JAMA Dermatology | JAMA Network
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October 1999

The Use of Tissue-Engineered Skin (Apligraf) to Treat a Newborn With Epidermolysis Bullosa

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery (Drs Falabella, Schachner, Valencia, and Eaglstein) and Pediatrics (Dr Schachner), University of Miami School of Medicine, and the Department of Dermatology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Falabella), Miami, Fla.

Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(10):1219-1222. doi:10.1001/archderm.135.10.1219

Background  Inherited epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a mechanobullous disorder. The Dowling-Meara variant, a subtype of EB, is characterized by widespread blister formation that may include the oral cavity and nails. Many patients with the Dowling-Meara phenotype are at increased risk of sepsis and death during infancy. The treatment of EB is generally supportive. The tissue-engineered skin used (Apligraf) is a bilayered human skin equivalent developed from foreskin. It is the only Food and Drug Administration–approved skin equivalent of its kind. It is approved for the treatment of venous ulcers of the lower extremities. It has also been used to treat acute wounds, such as graft donor sites and cancer excision sites.

Observation  To our knowledge, we describe the first case in which a newborn with EB, Dowling-Meara variant, was treated with bilayered tissue-engineered skin. The areas treated with the tissue-engineered skin healed faster than the areas treated with conventional therapy. Most of the areas treated with tissue-engineered skin have remained healed, without developing new blisters. These areas appear to be more resistant to trauma.

Conclusions  Our early success with tissue-engineered skin in this patient may have a significant impact on the future treatment of neonates with EB simplex. Future studies are needed to determine if the beneficial effects of tissue-engineered skin are reproducible in other neonates with EB simplex and in patients of all ages with different subtypes of EB.