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Cutting-edge drug development lab opens at Warwick

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The University of Warwick is now home to brand new laboratory facilities that will support further research into UK drug discovery.

The development, opened on March 29, is part of a project conducted by the Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC), a national research and development centre used to “promote and support innovative, fast-to-patient drug discovery in the UK”.  The MDC is just one of eleven non-profit, independent technology and innovation centres set up by the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK which reports to the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Located in the Warwick School of Life Sciences, the new lab will be used alongside the Catapult’s main Cheshire headquarters to facilitate developments in drug discovery here at the University. By supporting the discovery and evaluation of new medicines at the earliest stages of drug development (even before human trials), MDC aims to cement the UK as a world-leader in pharmaceutical advances.

Confronting the increasing threat of anti-microbial resistance will be the primary focus of the project.

This seems likely considering that the facilities and £1 million investment from the MDC will provide unprecedented access to solid-state NMR technology. This is through the use of a Bruker solid-state NMR probe which is the first of its kind in the UK. Other equipment includes advanced mass spectrometers and technology that allows precise liquid handling using sound. These will be invaluable for drug screening, complex biological assays (tests to determine the bioactivity of a substance), and biochemical analysis.  This will hopefully lead to the production of more effective drugs, particularly those used to treat diseases affected by the threat of anti-microbial resistance. Confronting the increasing threat of anti-microbial resistance will be the primary focus of the project, alongside making advances in microbiology, chemistry and structural biology.

It is probable that the collaborative nature of this project will help secure its success, and its location at Warwick can only aid further.

The development has been welcomed unanimously by the Biotech Industry Association (BIA), the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). The project also has interest from industry, with biotechnology businesses being present at the opening of the facility. It is probable that the collaborative nature of this project will help secure its success, and being located at Warwick can only aid this further.

According to Chris Molloy, CEO of the Medicines Discovery Catapult, “Siting the laboratory here in Warwick was a natural choice. Warwick is an inventive and collaborative organisation with key centres of AMR and NMR research. It is the right place to build a waterhole around which the community will gather to work together and solve the problems that no one group can solve alone.”

Only time will tell if the large investment will elicit innovative research. However, the combination the cutting-edge technology and support from the University surely means that progress in drug development is more likely than ever.

 

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