Biochemists solve a birth-defect mystery

The cellular cause of birth defects like cleft palates, missing teeth and problems with fingers and toes has been a tricky puzzle for scientists. Now biochemists studied an ion channel that regulates the electrical charge of a cell and found that blocking this channel disrupts the work of a protein that is supposed to carry marching orders to the nucleus. This newly discovered mechanism may be what some birth defect disorders have in common, opening the door for the pursuit of a preventative treatment.