Early Signs of Success for U of M Transplant Patient Trying to Grow New Skin

Early Signs of Success for U of M Transplant Patient Trying to Grow New Skin Photo: Courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen

May 19, 2017 09:36 AM

Doctors are seeing early signs that Jonathan Pitre's blood and bone marrow transplant was a success. 

Pitre has a rare skin disorder known as Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB. The problem: his body is not producing an essential protein known as collagen that would hold the layers of his skin together.

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Dr. Jakub Tolar, director of the University of Minnesota's Stem Cell Institute, is experimenting with a way to give EB patients new skin. It starts with a bone marrow transplant.

The blood and bone marrow donor is Pitre's mother. If the transplant works, patches of her skin will also be used to generate new skin growth.

And blood tests reveal his mom's donor cells are already present and multiplying in Pitre.  The hope is those new cells will rebuild his immune and blood-forming system and eventually allow him to grow new skin.

"The transplant from his mother has taken. We have the first evidence it's working," Tolar said.

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Not only that, but Tolar said some of the skin on Pitre's knees and neck is staying intact, which might be one of the most meaningful signs of all.

"Jonathan continues to amaze every one of us. He is fighting with everything he's got," Tolar said.

Those who'd like more information, or who want to help, can go online to find out more.

Credits

Ellen Galles

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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