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Cutting edge microscope revealed in new research centre

The £5m biology facility, which is the first of its kind of Scotland, has opened in Glasgow.

Biology: The microscope will image molecules at an atomic level
Biology: The microscope will image molecules at an atomic level Wellcome Images Awards

A "world-class" £5m structural biology centre housing a cutting-edge electron microscope has opened in Glasgow.

The microscope, which the centre said is the first of its kind in Scotland, will be used to image biological molecules at the atomic level.

The technology will be used to support research into diseases posing the greatest threat to human and animal health, boosting capabilities in areas such as vaccine development, cancer research and drug design and discovery.

The new Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imaging (SCMI) is the result of collaboration between researchers from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and St Andrews.

Structural biology involves determining the 3D architecture of proteins and other biological components in order to provide crucial insights into important processes in health and disease.

Dr David Bhella, SCMI director, said: "Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryoEM) is revolutionising the field of structural biology.

"The Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imaging is a tremendous opportunity not only for the CVR, but also for life sciences in Scotland.

"Our new facility will place the CVR and the University of Glasgow right at the centre of vital structural biology research by offering a world-class capability."

'The new technology will help us investigate key processes in infection and cancer biology'
Dr David Bhella

Investment for the centre was awarded through the Medical Research Council (MRC) to boost structural and cell biology research, and is part of an £11.3m government funding boost by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The SCMI was opened by Dr Richard Henderson, Nobel Laureate 2017 for Chemistry.

He said: "CryoEM, after many years of technical improvements, has now become an immensely powerful method for determining the structures of biological molecules and molecular assemblies that have resisted many other approaches.

"The new Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imaging provides a local capability for world-class structural biology on viruses, immune complexes and other macromolecular assemblies."

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