Ph-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) represent a group of conditions characterized by chronic increases in some or all of the blood cells (platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells). A major molecular defect in MPNs is JAK2V617F, a gain-of-function mutant form of tyrosine kinase JAK2 found in the majority of MPN patients. In earlier studies, we generated JAK2V617F transgenic mice by using the vav promoter which drives gene expression in all hematopoietic cells. These mice develop MPN-like phenotypes in a transgene dose-dependent manner. The objective of this study is to use this animal MPN model to test the efficacy of HH-002, a derivative of natural plant alkaloid homoharringtonine.

Treatment of JAK2V617F transgenic mice with a daily dose of 1 mg/kg HH-002 through subcutaneous injection reduced blood cell counts to the normal range or slightly below the normal level. HH-002 causes a preferential reduction of myeloid cells in JAK2V617F transgenic mice since percentages of lymphocytes (CD3e+ T cells and CD19+ B cells) were increased (despite somewhat decreases in absolute numbers) while the percentage of Gr-1+/CD11b+ granulocytes sharply declined. HH-002 also effectively reduced the spleen size of JAK2V617F transgenic mice and prevented development of myelofibrosis. With a JAK2V617F bone marrow transplant mouse model, HH-002 showed a similar effect. Although it did not increase the ratio of JAK2V617F-negative cells to JAK2V617F-positive, it stopped further expansion of JAK2V617F-containing malignant cells in JAK2V617F bone marrow recipient mice. In vitro experiments with primary hematopoietic cells demonstrated that HH-002 potently inhibited formation of erythroid and myeloid colonies with an IC50 value of 1-3 nM. However, it does not show a preferential inhibition of JAK2V617F-containing cells. This is not unexpected since homoharringtonine is known to inhibit protein synthesis. Taken together, HH-002 is a promising candidate for development of therapeutic drugs to treat MPNs and related diseases. Combination drug therapies with JAK2 inhibitors need to be explored.


Hallenbeck:Hangzhou Bensheng Pharmaceutical Corp. Ltd.: Employment, Equity Ownership. Rong:Hangzhou Bensheng Pharmaceutical Corp. Ltd.: Employment, Equity Ownership. Zhao:Hangzhou Bensheng Pharmaceutical Corp. Ltd.: Research Funding.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.