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Br J Dermatol. 2010 Dec;163(6):1149-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.09981.x. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Stem cell therapies for recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.

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  • 1St John's Institute of Dermatology, Dermatology Research Laboratories, Floor 9 Tower Wing, Guy's Hospital, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9RT, UK.


Human epidermis is composed of a stratified squamous epithelium that provides a mechanical barrier against the external environment and which is renewed every 3-4 weeks by resident stem cells in the epidermis. However, in the inherited skin fragility disorder, recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB), there is recurrent trauma-induced subepidermal blistering that disrupts epidermal homeostasis and is likely to deplete the epidermal stem cell pool. This review article discusses the nature of epidermal stem cells and other stem cell populations in the skin, as well as other possible extracutaneous sources of stem cells, that might have physiological or therapeutic relevance to cell therapy approaches for RDEB. Strategies to identify, create and use cells with multipotent or pluripotent properties are explored and current clinical experience of stem cell therapy in RDEB is reviewed. There is currently no single optimal therapy for patients with RDEB, but cell therapy technologies are evolving and hold great potential for modifying disease severity and improving quality of life for people living with RDEB.

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