Gene therapy in combination with tissue engineering to treat epidermolysis bullosa

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2006 Apr;6(4):367-78. doi: 10.1517/14712598.6.4.367.


In the last 20 years epidermal stem cells have been extensively used for tissue regeneration of epidermis and other epithelial surfaces. The tremendous progress achieved has led to the development of protocols aimed at the correction of rare genetic disorders such as epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a severe, often lethal, blistering disorder of the skin. Approximately 400,000-500,000 people are affected worldwide and no definitive treatments have yet been developed. Gene therapy might represent an alternative therapeutic approach. This paper reviews the different strategies used to genetically modify keratinocytes from EB patients and addresses issues such as the use of in vivo or ex vivo approaches, how to target keratinocytes with stem cell properties in order to have long-term therapeutic gene expression, and which gene transfer agents should be used. The progress made has led the authors' group to submit a request for a Phase I/II ex vivo therapy clinical trial for patients with junctional EB.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa / genetics*
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa / surgery
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa / therapy*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*