Craniofacial development is an intricate process of patterning, morphogenesis, and growth that involves many tissues within the developing embryo. Genetic misregulation of these processes leads to craniofacial malformations, which comprise over one-third of all congenital birth defects. Significant advances have been made in the clinical management of craniofacial disorders, but currently very few treatments specifically target the underlying molecular causes. Here, we review recent studies in which modeling of craniofacial disorders in primary patient cells, patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and mice have enhanced our understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of these disorders while also advancing therapeutic avenues for their prevention.

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