Fu, B., Liao, J., Chen, S. et al. CRISPR–Cas9-mediated gene editing of the BCL11A enhancer for pediatric β0/β0 transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia. Nat Med (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-01906-z
Gene editing to disrupt the GATA1-binding site at the +58 BCL11A erythroid enhancer could induce γ-globin expression, which is a promising therapeutic strategy to alleviate β-hemoglobinopathy caused by HBB gene mutation. In the present study, we report the preliminary results of an ongoing phase 1/2 trial (NCT04211480) evaluating safety and efficacy of gene editing therapy in children with blood transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia (TDT). We transplanted BCL11A enhancer-edited, autologous, hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells into two children, one carrying the β0/β0 genotype, classified as the most severe type of TDT. Primary endpoints included engraftment, overall survival and incidence of adverse events (AEs). Both patients were clinically well with multilineage engraftment, and all AEs to date were considered unrelated to gene editing and resolved after treatment. Secondary endpoints included achieving transfusion independence, editing rate in bone marrow cells and change in hemoglobin (Hb) concentration. Both patients achieved transfusion independence for >18 months after treatment, and their Hb increased from 8.2 and 10.8 g dl−1 at screening to 15.0 and 14.0 g dl−1 at the last visit, respectively, with 85.46% and 89.48% editing persistence in bone marrow cells. Exploratory analysis of single-cell transcriptome and indel patterns in edited peripheral blood mononuclear cells showed no notable side effects of the therapy.