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Cleft lip and palate: Genes more important than thought?
Date:3/8/2009

Comparing 500,000 snippets of human DNA put scientists from the University of Bonn on the right track. A genetic variant on chromosome 8 occurs with significantly higher frequency in people with cleft lip and palate than in the control group. The results are to be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal Nature Genetics.

Cleft lips and palates are among the most frequent innate abnormalities. One in about 700 babies in Central Europe are affected. Children in particular suffer a lot from the deformity, even if the insulting and discriminating term 'harelip' has fortunately almost died out.

In the cleft lip and palate, different tissue processes of the face and mouth area do not fuse together or do so insufficiently. This results in a gap remaining between lip, jaw and sometimes the palate. It seems likely that several factors have to add up in order for clefts to form. Both environmental influences which have an impact on the child in the womb and genetic factors contribute to the deformity. However, the results of the scientists from Bonn could also point to genes playing a far more important role in the formation of clefts than was previously thought.

The long arm of chromosome 8

The human geneticists from the University of Bonn had examined the DNA of 460 persons with clefts. More than half of them were examined more closely. The scientists analysed more than 500,000 items of information from their DNA and then compared these with the genetic snippets of a control group. A specific area in the human genome caught the scientists' attention. 'This was a point on the long arm of chromosome 8, where the cleft group conspicuously often had a variant, far more frequently than people who had no abnormality,' Dr. Elisabeth Mangold, a lecturer from the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn, explains. This is a notable clue that a gene located in this region has something to do with the occur
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Contact: Dr. Elisabeth Mangold
e.mangold@uni-bonn.de
49-022-828-722-286
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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