Alcohol Flush Probiotics

Treating Alcohol Flush with an Acetaldehyde Digesting Probiotic

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Overview: Turning red after consuming alcohol is caused by an accumulation of acetaldehyde, a carcinogenic intermediate of alcohol metabolism. Acetaldehyde is broken down into harmless acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). ALDH2 deficiency, the result of a point mutation in the ALDH2 gene, produces a much less efficient ALDH2 enzyme, leading to an accumulation of acetaldehyde and the subsequent flushing response. While about 8% of the global population is ALDH2 deficient, in Taiwan, approximately 47% of the population carries this genetic mutation. Studies show that ALDH2 deficiency greatly increases the risk of developing esophageal and head and neck cancer. Thus, this project aims to produce recombinant ALDH2 to decrease levels of acetaldehyde in the upper digestive tract region. We envision delivery of ALDH2 as a purified protein or in consumer-friendly probiotics.

Recognitions: This project was awarded multiple nominations, Best Entrepreneurial Project, and the Gold Medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) conference. It was also featured in Public Library of Science Collections.