Nucleic acid therapeutics

A single dose of EGLN1 siRNA yields increased erythropoiesis in nonhuman primates.

PMID 25272050


Decreased production of erythropoietin (EPO) causes anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease, and recombinant human EPO is used to treat renal failure associated anemia. The liver, the main EPO-producing organ in utero, maintains the capacity to produce EPO in the adult but in insufficient quantities to restore hemoglobin levels to normal in patients with impaired renal function. Inhibition of prolyl-4-hydroxylase domain (PHD) proteins is known to cause an increase in EPO production through its effects on hypoxia inducible factor. Here, we utilized small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting EGLN1, the gene encoding the PHD2 protein, to investigate the phenotypic consequences in nonhuman primates. A single, well-tolerated intravenous dose of an optimized EGLN1 siRNA encapsulated in a lipid nanoparticle formulation caused robust mRNA silencing in the liver, leading to increases in serum EPO and hemoglobin. The siRNA-induced erythropoiesis was dose-dependent and was sustained for at least 2 months. These data point to the potential for an RNA interference-based, liver-targeted therapeutic approach for the treatment of anemia.