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J Clin Invest. 2013 Jul 1. pii: 67930. doi: 10.1172/JCI67930. [Epub ahead of print]

β-globin gene transfer to human bone marrow for sickle cell disease.

Abstract

Autologous hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy is an approach to treating sickle cell disease (SCD) patients that may result in lower morbidity than allogeneic transplantation. We examined the potential of a lentiviral vector (LV) (CCL-βAS3-FB) encoding a human hemoglobin (HBB) gene engineered to impede sickle hemoglobin polymerization (HBBAS3) to transduce human BM CD34+ cells from SCD donors and prevent sickling of red blood cells produced by in vitro differentiation. The CCL-βAS3-FB LV transduced BM CD34+ cells from either healthy or SCD donors at similar levels, based on quantitative PCR and colony-forming unit progenitor analysis. Consistent expression of HBBAS3 mRNA and HbAS3 protein compromised a fourth of the total β-globin-like transcripts and hemoglobin (Hb) tetramers. Upon deoxygenation, a lower percentage of HBBAS3-transduced red blood cells exhibited sickling compared with mock-transduced cells from sickle donors. Transduced BM CD34+ cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice, and the human cells recovered after 2-3 months were cultured for erythroid differentiation, which showed levels of HBBAS3 mRNA similar to those seen in the CD34+ cells that were directly differentiated in vitro. These results demonstrate that the CCL-βAS3-FB LV is capable of efficient transfer and consistent expression of an effective anti-sickling β-globin gene in human SCD BM CD34+ progenitor cells, improving physiologic parameters of the resulting red blood cells.

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