Medicines Discovery Catapult and ZEISS join forces to improve drug discovery

Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and ZEISS have joined forces to improve drug discovery and early development of complex medicines by harnessing the power of advanced microscopy solutions.

Advanced microscopy techniques have emerged as a foundation of biomedical research, capable of visualising cellular functions at very high resolution, whilst being minimally invasive to the cells or tissues of interest. Incorporating advanced microscopy techniques into the early stages of the drug discovery process can provide invaluable information about drug activity within complex disease models.

Combining MDC’s expertise in cell biology and drug discovery with ZEISS’ microscope instrumentation and image analysis capabilities, the partnership will drive the application of advanced microscopy workflows (e.g. confocal, lightsheet, multiphoton and super-resolution microscopy) to measure the interaction between drug molecules and biological systems, and develop assays specifically tailored to drug discovery.

ZEISS is an international technology company and producer of microscopy hardware and software solutions with a portfolio of light, electron and X-ray microscopy solutions as well as accompanying software solutions for acquisition, analysis and workflow automation.

MDC is reshaping the UK’s medicines discovery industry, transforming great UK science into better treatments through partnership. It works to tackle industry-led challenges, overcoming the barriers that limit today’s drug discovery with effective interventions and industrialising new technologies to drive the adoption of new scientific tools and techniques for discovering medicines.

Aligned to this mission, MDC has established specialist advanced microscopy capabilities within their state-of-the-art Alderley Park based laboratory facilities – utilising several ZEISS microscopes to answer drug discovery questions by applying a range of advanced microscopy solutions.

Building upon that relationship, this collaboration allows MDC to further develop a unique advanced microscopy capability for drug discovery whilst informing the industrial application and future development of ZEISS instruments.

Pivotal to the collaboration is a joint project to develop advanced microscopy methods for analysis of complex medicines. Assessment of cellular internalisation, to ensure that a lead molecule can enter the cell and deliver an effective response, is a critical step in the development of complex medicines. In the project, MDC and ZEISS will produce a live cell imaging and image analysis pipeline that can be deployed to assess novel drug delivery technologies and therapeutics, enabling innovators to advance their projects.

Michael Albiez, head of ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions, said: “We are very excited about partnering with MDC to pursue our mutual goal of enabling drug hunters across the globe to discover and develop better drugs faster. Pairing MDC’s expertise in drug discovery with our unique capabilities across imaging modalities, workflow automation, and AI-powered image analysis will undoubtedly pave the way for powerful new discoveries in biopharma.”

Dr Martin Main, chief scientist at MDC, said: “Advanced microscopy offers an array of benefits to drug discovery, from characterising complex cell models of disease, to understanding the molecular mechanism of drug action. MDC’s Advanced Microscopy capability allows UK drug discovery innovators access to this critical R&D resource to progress their targets more efficiently and effectively, bringing better treatments to patients, faster.

“Through this partnership, we will push the boundaries of advanced microscopy in drug discovery, further driving the adoption of new scientific tools and techniques for drug discovery.”

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