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Baby Gets Bio-Engineered Skin

January 12, 1999

MIAMI (AP) _ An 8-week-old girl with a potentially fatal skin disease that causes severe blistering with the slightest touch received a patch of bio-engineered skin on Monday, doctors said.

The child is the first newborn to be given the faux skin, called Apligraf, and it is also the first time the skin is being used for a purpose other than healing wounds or for venous leg ulcers, said Dr. Lawrence Schachner, one of the girl’s doctors.

Since she was 11 days old, doctors at Jackson Children’s Hospital have been applying the new skin to Tori Cameron’s body, which is now 40 percent covered. On Monday, she received a 7-centimeter patch of the elastic, bone-colored laboratory skin on her blistered right calf.

Most of her treated areas do not have blisters or scarring. The Apligraf has blended so well doctors say they can’t tell the new skin from Tori’s baby skin.

``We hope this skin will take over and teach the baby’s skin cells to behave normally,″ said Dr. William Eaglstein, another of her doctors.

The skin has been available since May, when it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The skin is made from a baby’s foreskin removed at circumcision and bovine collagen. Doctors can grow 200,000 units of Apligraf from a stamp-size piece of baby foreskin.

Tori was born with Dowling Meara disease, which affects about 1,000 Americans. At birth, Tori emerged with portions of her body completely raw.

Babies afflicted with the disorder are born lacking the necessary cells to hold their skin together and keep out bacteria and infections.

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