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£11 million cleft research study will have global impact

The largest ever research programme into cleft lip and palate will bring huge potential benefit to patients around the world, say scientists speaking at the project's launch on Tuesday.

Cleft is one of the most common congenital abnormalities in the world, affecting 1,200 children born in the UK every year, but little is known about its causes, with opinion divided on best treatments.

The £11 million, five-year programme - called The Cleft Collective - is the single biggest investment in cleft research anywhere in the world and will draw on expertise from across the UK. The Healing Foundation charity will be providing £5 million towards the project, with additional funding coming from university and NHS partners.

The Universities of Manchester and Bristol will lead the programme, in partnership with the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the NIHR Medicines for Children Research Network Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Liverpool and the University of the West of England.

In Manchester, researchers will run a programme of clinical studies, while in Bristol scientists will host a cleft gene bank and cohort study.

Professor Bill Shaw, lead researcher for the Manchester team, said: "Even today, we neither know the cause of cleft nor the best approaches to treatment. Here in Manchester we will be coordinating a nationwide programme of research in order to improve the treatments available and reduce the burden of care on children and their families. The benefits of our collaborative work will be felt by patients and their families worldwide."

Acting Chief Executive of The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) Sue Carroll added: "We at CLAPA welcome this new and exciting research programme which, over the next five years, will provide huge insights into cleft lip and palate. We urge as many people as possible nationwide to get involved."



Notes for editors:

The Cleft Collective research programme, hosted by the Universities of Manchester and Bristol and part-funded by The Healing Foundation, will be launched at the Science Media Centre, The Wellcome Trust, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 on Tuesday, 27 March, at 10.30am.

Speakers at the launch event include:

  • Professor Jonathan Sandy,    Director, Healing Foundation Cleft Gene Bank, Bristol
  • Professor Nichola Rumsey,   Director, Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England
  • Professor Bill Shaw, Director, Healing Foundation Centre for Cleft Research, The University of Manchester
  • Professor Jill Clayton Smith, Consultant Clinical Geneticist, North Western Regional Genetic Service, Manchester

The Healing Foundation is a UK charity supporting research in all aspects of disfigurement, scarring and reconstructive surgery. It is a registered charity (number 1078666) and a company limited by guarantee (no. 3831398); registered in England and Wales.

CLAPA is the only UK-wide voluntary organisation specifically helping those with, and affected by, cleft lip and palate.

Media enquiries to:

Aeron Haworth

Media Relations

Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences

The University of Manchester


Tel: 0161 275 8383

Mob: 07717 881563

Email: aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk