Stead Family Department of Pediatrics

UI researchers identify genes that contribute to cleft palate

Jeff Murray Lab

Investigators at the University of Iowa have identified the genes that contribute to cleft palate as one focal point of ongoing research that has remained active for more than 20 years. Advances in DNA analysis in recent years have enabled these researchers to identify several genes that cause rare, highly inheritable forms of cleft as well as about 10 genes that contribute to the common forms of cleft.

As part of this research, investigators have also found that some of the same genes appear to affect how some wounds of all types – the cleft is a kind of embryonic wound – might heal, which has implications for trauma and surgical treatments.

Finally, researchers are also using three-dimensional facial imaging to determine how the normal face develops.

“These findings provide immediate benefits in finding new pathways in facial development and hold the promise for improving diagnosis and treatment. … All of this work has benefitted from the active participation of many families from Iowa who contribute freely to the research to benefit others.”

Did you know: Approximately one in every 1,000 babies born in the United States is affected by a cleft palate, a cleft lip or both, making the condition the most common birth defect in the country.