In several types of thalassemia (including beta(0)39-thalassemia), stop codon mutations lead to premature translation termination and to mRNA destabilization through nonsense-mediated decay. Drugs (for instance aminoglycosides) can be designed to suppress premature termination, inducing a ribosomal readthrough. These findings have introduced new hopes for the development of a pharmacologic approach to the cure of this disease. However, the effects of aminoglycosides on globin mRNA carrying beta-thalassemia stop mutations have not yet been investigated. In this study, we have used a lentiviral construct containing the beta(0)39-thalassemia globin gene under control of the beta-globin promoter and a LCR cassette. We demonstrated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis the production of beta-globin by K562 cell clones expressing the beta(0)39-thalassemia globin gene and treated with G418. More importantly, after FACS and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analyses, erythroid precursor cells from beta(0)39-thalassemia patients were demonstrated to be able to produce beta-globin and adult hemoglobin after treatment with G418. This study strongly suggests that ribosomal readthrough should be considered a strategy for developing experimental strategies for the treatment of beta(0)-thalassemia caused by stop codon mutations. Am. J. Hematol., 2009. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.