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Experientia

Butyrate-induced reactivation of the fetal globin genes: a molecular treatment for the beta-hemoglobinopathies.


PMID 7680003

Abstract

The inherited beta-hemoglobinopathies (sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia) are the result of a mutation in the adult (beta) globin gene. The fetal globin chain, encoded by the gamma globin genes, can substitute for the mutated or defective beta globin chain, but expression of the gamma globin gene is developmentally inactivated prior to birth. Re-inducing expression of the normal fetal globin genes is a preferred method of ameliorating sickle cell disease and the beta thalassemias. Stimulation of as little as 4-8% fetal globin synthesis in the bone marrow can produce > 20% fetal hemoglobin in the peripheral circulation, due to enhanced survival of red blood cells containing both sickle and fetal hemoglobin, compared to those containing sickle hemoglobin alone. Butyric acid and butyrate derivatives are generally safe compounds which induce fetal hemoglobin production by stimulating the promoter of the fetal globin genes. An initial trial with the parent compound, delivered as Arginine Butyrate, has demonstrated rapid stimulation of fetal globin expression to levels that have been shown to ameliorate these conditions. Phase 1 trials of an oral butyrate derivative with a long plasma half-life have just begun. These agents now provide a specific new approach for ameliorating these classic molecular disorders and merit further investigation in larger patient populations.

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