Insight on Research

Uncovering how alcohol-derived metabolites damage the genome of stem cells

Lack of the two-tier protection system leads to genomic instability and mutations in blood stem cells.

Previous work from KJ Patel’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division revealed that aldehydes – such as acetaldehyde, a by-product of alcohol metabolism – can damage our DNA. Further research by the group showed that our cells are protected against these toxic aldehydes using a two-tier protection system: enzymes that remove these aldehydes (tier-1) and DNA repair that fixes the damage they cause (tier-2).