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UK launch cleft lip research

28th March 2012

A new £11m research project in the UK is aiming to determine what causes cleft lip and palate.

It will see the world’s largest research databank for cleft lip and palate established to try to discover why the common congenital abnormality occurs.

Some 1,200 babies are born every year with the abnormality and now parents of such children are being encouraged to enrol in the five-year programme.

The Cleft Collective team will gather and analyse the DNA of around 3,000 children and follow them through childhood to find a cause and establish what the best course of treatment is, including which surgery offers the best cosmetic and functional results.

It will also examine what practical and emotional support these families might need.

The Cleft Collective will be run at two universities in Bristol, Liverpool University and a clinical trials centre based at the University of Manchester.

It is partly funded by UK charity the Healing Foundation, with the rest of the investment coming from universities and NHS partners.

Lead researcher for the Bristol gene bank, Professor Jonathan Sandy, said: “Children born with cleft often face unique challenges. These include speech and language issues, educational difficulties and broader health concerns.

“We do not know if these problems are caused by the genes that may be responsible for cleft or by other factors, such as lifestyle or 'environmental' factors. This study will help answer these important questions and could also solve the ultimate mystery of what causes cleft in the first place.”

 

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