The hallmarks of the rare inherited disorder Fanconi anemia (FA) are progressive bone marrow failure and susceptibility to cancer. The former is the major cause of death for patients with FA, as it usually occurs earlier in life than cancer development. Despite spectacular advances in unraveling the molecular details of FA, the origin of the bone marrow failure that is central to this condition for most patients has long been puzzling and controversial. Two studies recently published in the JCI, including one in this issue, will add to the debate. They also highlight the fact that studying rare disorders can elucidate important new clinical and biological principles.
Philip J. Mason, Monica Bessler