Splice-correction strategies for treatment of X-linked agammaglobulinemia.
Bestas B., Turunen JJ., Blomberg KEM., Wang Q., Månsson R., El Andaloussi S., Berglöf A., Smith CIE.
X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) is a primary immunodeficiency disease caused by mutations in the gene coding for Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK). Deficiency of BTK leads to a developmental block in B cell differentiation; hence, the patients essentially lack antibody-producing plasma cells and are susceptible to various infections. A substantial portion of the mutations in BTK results in splicing defects, consequently preventing the formation of protein-coding mRNA. Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) are therapeutic compounds that have the ability to modulate pre-mRNA splicing and alter gene expression. The potential of ASOs has been exploited for a few severe diseases, both in pre-clinical and clinical studies. Recently, advances have also been made in using ASOs as a personalized therapy for XLA. Splice-correction of BTK has been shown to be feasible for different mutations in vitro, and a recent proof-of-concept study demonstrated the feasibility of correcting splicing and restoring BTK both ex vivo and in vivo in a humanized bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-transgenic mouse model. This review summarizes the advances in splice correction, as a personalized medicine for XLA, and outlines the promises and challenges of using this technology as a curative long-term treatment option.