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'Cured' Boy Beats Deadly Genetic Disease With Aid Of Stem Cell Tech

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Stem cell technology that genetically-modified skin cells, first created in Europe two years ago, has just been revealed with the patient, a little boy, now being called "Cured."

Hassan looks like the picture of health now, but two years ago, doctors in London say he was close to dying.

The Syrian refugee could barely walk or eat, because most of the skin on his body was blistered and infected.

"The prognosis of the kid was very, very, very poor,"  Dr. Michele De Luca of the University of Modena said.

Hassan was born with a rare genetic disease called junctional epidermolysis bullosa, also known as "Butterfly disease" because it causes skin to become fragile and tear like butterfly wings.

Antibiotics, bandages, even a skin graft from his father, didn't help.

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He was saved by stem cell scientists in Europe who attempted a breakthrough procedure, growing genetically-modified, healthy skin cells in a lab and turning them into "sheets" of skin.

Doctors then grafted the replacement skin onto Hassan's body in a series of transplant operations.

"We had a major improvement after the first transplantation because of the diminishing of the open wound areas. The child improved dramatically," surgeon, Tobias Hirsch said.

It's been two years since Hassan's last surgery and doctors say he's cured of the disease and enjoying life as an active seven-year-old.

Doctors believe the experimental stem-cell treatment could help other people with skin diseases, as well as burn victims. They now want to use their research in clinical trials.

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