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Potential gene therapy approach to sickle cell disease highlighted at American Society of Hematology
Date:12/11/2012

form that is largely produced during development and for a short time after birth. BCL11A is a transcription factor that facilitates that shift in hemoglobin production. Fetal hemoglobin expression significantly reduces the symptoms and complications of sickle cell disease because it prevents the intracellular abnormalities caused by the sickle mutation.

In their abstract, Renella, Orkin, Williams and their colleagues reported on their efforts to develop a combined lentiviral gene transfer/RNA interference approach capable of turning down BCL11A in vitro in human and mouse cells and in vivo in a mouse bone-marrow transplant model. Among their findings, the researchers documented a five- to 20-fold increase in fetal hemoglobin production in treated mice.

The team is quick to note that they have not yet attempted to correct disease in a model of sickle cell using this approach. Such efforts would be carried out in future studies.

"There are many approaches to sickle cell disease, and while we've shown we can develop viral vectors, knock down BCL11A, and induce fetal hemoglobin production, it's all been done in non-disease model systems," cautioned Renella, a fellow in the Williams laboratory at DF/CHCC. "What we don't yet know is whether we can stop production of sickled cells in a sickle cell system. Further experiments will show us if that is possible."


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Contact: Rob Graham
rob.graham@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Boston Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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