Hemophilia is an X-linked inherited bleeding disorder, resulting from defects in the F8 (hemophilia A) or F9 (hemophilia B) genes. Persons with hemophilia have bleeding episodes into the soft tissues and joints, which are treated with self-infusion of factor VIII or IX concentrates. Hemophilia provides an attractive target for gene therapy studies, due to the monogenic nature of these disorders and easily measurable endpoints (factor levels and bleed rates). All successful, pre-clinical and clinical studies to date have utilized recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors for factor VIII or IX hepatocyte transduction. Recent clinical data have presented normalization of factor levels in some patients with improvements in bleed rate and quality of life. The main toxicity seen within these studies has been early transient elevation in liver enzymes, with variable effect on transgene expression. Although long-term data are awaited, durable expression has been seen within the hemophilia dog model with no late-toxicity or oncogenesis. There are a number of phase III studies currently recruiting; however, there may be some limitations in translating these data to clinical practice, due to inclusion/exclusion criteria. AAV-based gene therapy is one of a number of novel approaches for treatment of hemophilia with other gene therapy (in vivo and ex vivo) and non-replacement therapies progressing through clinical trials. Availability of these high-cost novel therapeutics will require evolution of both clinical and financial healthcare services to allow equitable personalization of care for persons with hemophilia.
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