The level of fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is an important disease modifier for β-thalassemia and sickle cell disease patients. Indeed, genetic tinkering with the HbF repression machinery has demonstrated great potential for disease mitigation. Such genetic treatments are costly and the high incidence of β-hemoglobinopathies in low-income countries, therefore, calls for the development of affordable, off-the-shelf, oral treatments. The use of PROTAC (PRoteolysis TArgeting Chimeras) technology to influence the epigenetic mechanisms involved in HbF suppression may provide a solution. In this minireview, we briefly explain the HbF repression network highlighting the epigenetic factors that could be targeted for degradation by PROTACs. We hope that this review will inspire clinicians, molecular and chemical biologists to collaborate and contribute to this fascinating field, which should ultimately deliver drugs that reactivate HbF expression with high specificity and low toxicity.

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Biophysical Genomics, Department Cell Biology & Genetics

J. Verheul, T.C. (Thijs C.), Trinh, V.T. (Van Tuan), Vázquez, O. (Olalla), & Philipsen, J.N.J. (2020). Targeted Protein Degradation as a Promising Tool for Epigenetic Upregulation of Fetal Hemoglobin. ChemMedChem. doi:10.1002/cmdc.202000574