Gene Therapy in Patients with the Crigler-Najjar Syndrome

N Engl J Med. 2023 Aug 17;389(7):620-631. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2214084.


Background: Patients with the Crigler-Najjar syndrome lack the enzyme uridine diphosphoglucuronate glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 (UGT1A1), the absence of which leads to severe unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia that can cause irreversible neurologic injury and death. Prolonged, daily phototherapy partially controls the jaundice, but the only definitive cure is liver transplantation.

Methods: We report the results of the dose-escalation portion of a phase 1-2 study evaluating the safety and efficacy of a single intravenous infusion of an adeno-associated virus serotype 8 vector encoding UGT1A1 in patients with the Crigler-Najjar syndrome that was being treated with phototherapy. Five patients received a single infusion of the gene construct (GNT0003): two received 2×1012 vector genomes (vg) per kilogram of body weight, and three received 5×1012 vg per kilogram. The primary end points were measures of safety and efficacy; efficacy was defined as a serum bilirubin level of 300 μmol per liter or lower measured at 17 weeks, 1 week after discontinuation of phototherapy.

Results: No serious adverse events were reported. The most common adverse events were headache and alterations in liver-enzyme levels. Alanine aminotransferase increased to levels above the upper limit of the normal range in four patients, a finding potentially related to an immune response against the infused vector; these patients were treated with a course of glucocorticoids. By week 16, serum bilirubin levels in patients who received the lower dose of GNT0003 exceeded 300 μmol per liter. The patients who received the higher dose had bilirubin levels below 300 μmol per liter in the absence of phototherapy at the end of follow-up (mean [±SD] baseline bilirubin level, 351±56 μmol per liter; mean level at the final follow-up visit [week 78 in two patients and week 80 in the other], 149±33 μmol per liter).

Conclusions: No serious adverse events were reported in patients treated with the gene-therapy vector GNT0003 in this small study. Patients who received the higher dose had a decrease in bilirubin levels and were not receiving phototherapy at least 78 weeks after vector administration. (Funded by Genethon and others; number, NCT03466463.).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Crigler-Najjar Syndrome* / blood
  • Crigler-Najjar Syndrome* / complications
  • Crigler-Najjar Syndrome* / genetics
  • Crigler-Najjar Syndrome* / therapy
  • Dependovirus
  • Genetic Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Genetic Therapy* / methods
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage
  • Glucuronosyltransferase* / administration & dosage
  • Glucuronosyltransferase* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / blood
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / etiology
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / genetics
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / therapy
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Phototherapy


  • Bilirubin
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • UGT1A1 enzyme

Associated data