Volume 6 (2017) Issue 1 Pages 6-20
Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of inherited blistering diseases that affects ~ 500,000 people worldwide. Clinically, individuals with EB have fragile skin and are susceptible to blistering following minimal trauma, with mucous membrane and other organ involvement in some subtypes. Within the spectrum of EB, ~ 5% of affected individuals have the clinically more severe recessive dystrophic (RDEB) variant with a prevalence of 8 per one million of the population. RDEB is caused by loss-of-function mutations in the type VII collagen gene, COL7A1, which leads to reduced or absent type VII collagen (C7) and a paucity of structurally effective anchoring fibrils at the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ). Currently, there is no cure for RDEB, although considerable progress has been made in testing novel treatments including gene therapy (lentiviral and gamma retroviral vectors for COL7A1 supplementation in keratinocytes and fibroblasts), as well as cell therapy (use of allogeneic fibroblasts, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and bone marrow transplantation (BMT)). Here, we review current treatment modalities available as well as novel and emerging therapies in the treatment of RDEB. Clinical trials of new translational therapies in RDEB offer hope for improved clinical management of patients as well as generating broader lessons for regenerative medicine that could be applicable to other inherited or acquired abnormalities of wound healing or scarring.