Gene therapy for hemophilia: Progress to date and challenges moving forward

Transfus Apher Sci. 2019 Oct;58(5):602-612. doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2019.08.012. Epub 2019 Aug 6.


Over the past decades hemophilia has been transformed from a debilitating disease to a manageable condition. However, the current treatment options are expensive, complex, and inaccessible to a large portion of the global population. Moreover, the development of antibodies to replacement factors, termed inhibitors, is a common complication that not only renders conventional prophylaxis regimens ineffective but also increases the annual bleeding rate in affected patients. Fortunately, much progress has been made toward developing a curative gene therapy treatment for hemophilia and these efforts have led to a series of human trials with promising results. This review seeks to address some of the new issues raised by recent progress in the field, including the differences between available recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vectors, the etiology of transaminitis following vector administration, and techniques to induce long-term factor expression. We also address other unresolved questions, including strategies to overcome pre-existing neutralizing antibodies to AAV, approaches that can make vector re-administration possible, and whether gene therapy can be used to induce factor tolerance and treat inhibitors. Finally, we discuss logistical and ethical issues related to hemophilia gene therapy including how to accurately measure therapeutic outcomes, when to consider treatment of pediatric patients, and how to equitably price the medication to ensure fair compensation while maximizing accessibility. As the field marches forward from clinical trials towards clinical application, answers to these questions will determine the future of gene therapy for hemophilia.

Keywords: AAV; Gene therapy; Hemophilia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dependovirus*
  • Genetic Therapy* / methods
  • Genetic Therapy* / trends
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Hemophilia A* / blood
  • Hemophilia A* / genetics
  • Hemophilia A* / therapy
  • Humans