THE search for new drugs to combat diseases more effectively could be revolutionised through a new £30m project using high-tech microscopes.

Experts using electron microscopes to get high resolution images will be able to see, for the first time, how a particular drug works within a patient at a cellular level or the molecular processes set in motion by a genetic mutation.

The technology aims to create 3D images of cells at very high resolution to transform understanding of diseases such as cancer.

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The project based at Harwell Campus, near Didcot, will be supported with £3m from the Government’s Office for Life Sciences and led by the global life sciences company Thermo Fisher Scientific and the Rosalind Franklin Institute, which is dedicated to bringing about changes through research and technology development.

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Prof James Naismith, lead researcher and director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: “About 80 percent of new drugs fail when they reach clinical trials because we don’t fully understand their effects within a living organism.

Oxford Mail:

“We’re currently able to identify genes and proteins that play a role in diseases but can only study these in detail in isolation, not as part of a whole cell or group of cells.

"This new technology would be the first to allow us to do that, so we can see the full effects of a drug and identify at a much earlier stage what will work and what will not.

“Drug development has never been slower or higher cost than it is now. We need to have a breakthrough in the physical science that supports drug discovery to change that.”

The project is being announced a work begins on the Rosalind Franklin Institute’s central hub building on the Harwell Campus.

The building will create a specialist environment for sensitive scientific equipment that will be unique in the world.

It is set to house 200 researchers and will open in late 2020.