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Prof. Abraham Fainsod

Over a decade ago, I had a student who was doing some experiments on retinoic acid (a nutrient that that body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy), which is essential in proper fetal development. We became interested in blocking the biosynthesis of retinoic acid and she showed me how ethyl alcohol blocked the retinoic acid effects. The results intrigued us and we began to focus our attention on the developmental malformations induced by alcohol as part of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and, in particular, its strongest manifestation, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since then our research has indicated that ethyl alcohol detoxification competes with retinoic acid biosynthesis and this competition can be abolished by increasing the levels of retinol (Vitamin A). IMRIC has now established the Canada-Israel International Fetal Alcohol Consortium, a collaboration with the government of Manitoba and the University of Manitoba that will test whether adjusting the levels of vitamin A in the diet can reduce the severity and the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder as in our experimental system. We are excited to see what the results produce.