Molecular Therapy: “Lentiviral vector ALS20 yields high hemoglobin levels with low genomic integrations for treatment of beta-globinopathies”

Apr 4, 2021 | News

Ongoing clinical trials for treatment of beta-globinopathies by gene therapy involve the transfer of the beta-globin gene, which requires integration of three to four copies per genome in most target cells. This high proviral load may increase genome toxicity, potentially limiting the safety of this therapy and rel-egating its use to total body myeloablation. We hypothesized that introducing an additional hypersensitive site from the lo-cus control region, the complete sequence of the second intron of the beta-globin gene, and the ankyrin insulator may enhance beta-globin expression. We identified a construct, ALS20, that synthesized significantly higher adult hemoglobin levels than those of other constructs currently used in clinical trials. These findings were confirmed in erythroblastic cell lines and in pri-mary cells isolated from sickle cell disease patients. Bone marrow transplantation studies in beta-thalassemia mice re-vealed that ALS20 was curative at less than one copy per genome. Injection of human CD34+ cells transduced with ALS20 led to safe, long-term, and high polyclonal engraftment in xenograft experiments. Successful treatment of beta-globi-nopathies with ALS20 could potentially be achieved at less than two copies per genome, minimizing the risk of cytotoxic events and lowering the intensity of myeloablation.

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