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Patchwork Salvation

Gene therapy offers a breakthrough for a rare and fatal condition that causes the skin to blister

MEDICINE

@sheridan_kate

THE 7-YEAR-OLD BOY AHD ALMOST no skin when he arrived at a German hospital’s burn center in June 2015, and for months doctors struggled to keep him alive. The child had a rare and fatal skin condition that causes gruesome blisters, but today he’s going to school and happily playing soccer. He’s able to do all that because a genetically modified new skin now covers most of his body.

A team of doctors achieved this astonishing feat by genetically modifying a small section of the child’s skin to correct the mutation in a gene called LAMB3. The boy still has the debilitating disease—junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB), and some of the cells in his body still carry the mutated gene, but almost none of his skin does.

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SINS OF THE FATHERS Philadelphia detective Joe Walsh was admired by peers and prosecutors, but he is most proud of the fact that he never locked up an innocent person. Then he got sucked into a massive cover-up of sexual abuse by priests.