2,2-Dimethylbutyrate (HQK-1001), an orally-bioavailable promoter-targeted fetal globin gene-inducing agent, was evaluated in an open-label, randomized dose-escalation study in 52 subjects with hemoglobin SS or S/β(0) thalassemia. HQK-1001 was administered daily for 26 weeks at 30 mg/kg (n = 15), 40 mg/kg (n = 18) and 50 mg/kg (n = 19), either alone (n = 21) or with hydroxyurea (n = 31). The most common drug-related adverse events were usually mild or moderate and reversible. Gastritis was graded as severe in three subjects at 40 mg/kg and was considered the dose-limiting toxicity. Subsequently all subjects were switched to the maximum tolerated dose of 30 mg/kg. Due to early discontinuations for blood transfusions, adverse events or non-compliance, only 25 subjects (48%) completed the study. Drug plasma concentrations were sustained above targeted levels at 30 mg/kg. Increases in fetal hemoglobin (Hb F) were observed in 42 subjects (80%), and 12 (23%) had increases ≥4%. The mean increase in Hb F was 2% [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.8-3.2%] in 21 subjects receiving HQK-1001 alone and 2.7% (95% CI, 1.7-3.8%) in 31 subjects receiving HQK-1001 plus hydroxyurea. Total hemoglobin increased by a mean of 0.65 g/dL (95% CI, 0.5-1.0 g/dL), and 13 subjects (25%) had increases ≥1 g/dL. Future studies are warranted to evaluate the therapeutic potential of HQK-1001 in sickle cell disease. .
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01322269.
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