Targeting activated protein C to treat hemophilia.

29 Nov 2017

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Hemophilia is a debilitating disease, marked by frequent, painful bleeding events, joint deterioration and early death. All current treatments consist of i.v. infusions of replacement factor or other procoagulant factors, and are incompletely effective, due in part to the short half-lives of the proteins. An alternative approach is to rebalance hemostasis by inhibiting natural anticoagulant mechanisms. In this article, we explain why activated protein C (APC) is an appropriate and safe target for the treatment of hemophilia. RECENT FINDINGS: A serpin (serine protease inhibitor) was engineered to specifically inhibit APC and was found to rescue hemostasis in a hemophilia mouse model, even after a severe tail clip injury. However, APC is also anti-inflammatory and has cytoprotective activities, raising safety concerns over the use of an APC inhibitor to treat hemophilia. We summarize the molecular basis of the anticoagulant and signaling activities of APC to assess the potential impact of targeting APC. SUMMARY: We conclude that the signaling and anticoagulant functions of APC are in spatially and kinetically distinct compartments, and that it is possible to specifically inhibit the anticoagulant activity of APC. Targeting APC with a serpin is remarkably effective and may be safe for long-term prophylactic use in the treatment of hemophilia.