Cooley's Anemia (CA), β-thalassemia major, is a genetic disease caused by an impairment in β-globin protein synthesis. The resulting excess in α-globin chains causes the premature destruction of erythroid cells (ineffective erythropoiesis), anemia, and if left untreated, death within the first years of life. Several mutations in the promoters of the fetal γ-globin genes have been identified which impair the silencing of the fetal genes in adulthood, a condition termed hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin (HPFH). The amount of fetal hemoglobin (Hb F) expressed and the distribution within the RBC population (pancellular vs heterocellular), varies widely with different HPFH mutations. It has also been observed that thalassemia patients who co-inherit HPFH mutations that express higher levels of Hb F have milder disease symptoms. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the incorporation of a non-deletional HPFH mutation into the promoter of the human g-globin gene in a humanized mouse model of CA can rescue the animals from their perinatal lethality. Heterozygous humanized HPFH -175 mice express pancellular, high-levels of Hb F into adulthood. Homozygous HPFH -175 CA mice are rescued from their perinatal lethality, surviving solely on 100% human Hb F and are transfusion independent for life. This result is significant because it demonstrates that introduction of an HPFH mutation into the γ-globin gene promoter by gene editing may be a viable therapeutic option for CA patients in the future.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.