A 14-year-old boy suffering from epidermolysis bullosa (EB) has his vision restored after a pioneering doctor gave him a topical gel to apply to his eyes, according to The Daily Mail. EB is a condition that affects 1 in every 50,000 children, leaving them with scar tissue built up around the eyeballs.
From birth, Antonio Vento Carvajal suffered from dystrophic EB which caused issues in the genes that would have otherwise produced collagen 7, a protein that reportedly keeps the skin together. Around 3,000 people globally have the condition. Collagen provides support to tissues and cellular processes, helping with tissue repair, immune responses, cellular communication, and cellular migration.
As time went on, Carvajal’s vision began to worsen as the scars around his eyes increased. Eventually, he did not feel okay to walk around on his own.
The boy’s life was drastically changed after he partook in a clinical trial headed by Dr. Alfonso Sabater. Sabater recommended that Carvajal try a topical gel that is used for skin lesions. But the topical gel also contains a surprising ingredient—deactivated herpes that works to produce the collagen gene.
Carvajal now sees with almost 20/20 vision, according to the outlet. He came to the United States with his family from Cuba to receive treatment for his condition. Several surgeries targeting the growing scar tissue had been unsuccessful until he was enrolled in the clinical trial for the therapy known as Vyjuvek.
Sabater approached the manufacturer, manufacturer Krystal Biotech, to present the case for making an ocular treatment based on the same viral vector, which is the inactive herpes virus. KB was reportedly interested in the patient and developed the treatment, which contained roughly the same ingredients without the gel.
While Carvajal still uses the topical gel for his skin, which is still prone to wounds, he continues to see Sabater every month for his eye drops. The scars in the tissue have not grown back.