Beta thalassemia intermedia (BTI) syndromes are characterized by globin chain imbalance, ineffective erythropoiesis, hemolytic anemia, and have no therapeutic approved for the underlying pathology. Higher fetal globin (HbF) expression can compensate for beta globin deficiency, reduce globin chain imbalance, and ameliorate phenotype within the same genotypes. HQK-1001 (HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, CA) is an orally bioavailable, non-cytotoxic, short-chain fatty acid derivative which induces fetal globin expression in multiple experimental models. In thalassemic erythroid progenitors in vitro, HQK-1001 prolongs STAT-5 phosphorylation and increases expression of the pro-survival protein Bcl-xL. In a Phase I/II dose-escalation trial in BTI, HQK-1001 administered at 10, 20, 30, and 40 mg/kg/day for 8 weeks was well–tolerated, demonstrated a t½ of 9–11 hours, and treatment resulted in an increase in HbF and total hemoglobin (Hgb), with best results observed at 20 mg/kg.
This open-label Phase 2 trial evaluated HQK-1001 administered orally at 20 mg/kg once daily for 26 weeks in adult patients with HbE-β0 thalassemia (NCT01609595). Ten subjects were enrolled, ages 20–36 years, including 7/10 female and 5/10 splenectomized subjects. The beta globin molecular mutations of the subjects, in addition to Codon 26 (G-A), included Codon 41/42 (-TTCT), Codon 17 (A-T), Codon 110 (T-C), and IVS I-I (G-T). At the time of this analysis, 9 of 10 subjects have completed at least 20 weeks of dosing. HbF has increased in all subjects above baseline levels by a mean of 10% (range 4.3% to 20.9%) and total HbF has increased by a mean of 1.07 g/dL, (range 0.52–2.38 g/dL, with positive changes in total HbF observed in 9/10 subjects. Total Hgb has increased by >0.5 g/dL above baseline (mean of 1.27 g/dL, range 0.7 to 2.2 g/dL) in 3 subjects after 3 to 5 months of dosing. Treatment was well-tolerated. There have been no severe drug-related adverse events, no serious adverse events, and no clinically relevant laboratory abnormalities. One subject developed transient proteinuria and edema without changes in renal function 3 weeks following an episode of pharyngitis. This ongoing trial demonstrates consistent induction of fetal globin expression by HQK-1001 at a well-tolerated dose level in subjects with HbE-beta thalassemia.
Fucharoen:HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding. Perrine:HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals: Equity Ownership, Patents & Royalties.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.