In Nature, Alcohol By-Product Shown to Destroy Blood Stem Cells
Published in Nature, a study led by KJ Patel has revealed how alcohol can damage hematopoietic (or blood) stem cells. When mice lacked an enzyme that breaks down acetaldehyde, a toxic alcohol metabolite, and certain DNA repair proteins, they developed bone marrow failure. This discovery reveals why patients suffering from Fanconi anemia (FA), a genetic disease in which patients lack proteins to repair DNA damage wrought by acetaldehyde, have an increased risk of blood cancers and bone marrow failure. These findings could lead to targeted treatments for FA.