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Hematopoietic stem cell collection for sickle cell disease gene therapy.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Gene therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD) is advancing rapidly, with two transformative products recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and numerous others under study. All current gene therapy protocols require ex vivo modification of autologous hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). However, several SCD-related problems impair HSC collection, including a stressed and damaged bone marrow, potential cytotoxicity by the major therapeutic drug hydroxyurea, and inability to use granulocyte colony stimulating factor, which can precipitate severe vaso-occlusive events.

RECENT FINDINGS: Peripheral blood mobilization of HSCs using the CXCR4 antagonist plerixafor followed by apheresis collection was recently shown to be safe and effective for most SCD patients and is the current strategy for mobilizing HSCs. However, exceptionally large numbers of HSCs are required to manufacture an adequate cellular product, responses to plerixafor are variable, and most patients require multiple mobilization cycles, increasing the risk for adverse events. For some, gene therapy is prohibited by the failure to obtain adequate numbers of HSCs.

SUMMARY: Here we review the current knowledge on HSC collection from individuals with SCD and potential improvements that may enhance the safety, efficacy, and availability of gene therapy for this disorder.

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