A new form of microscope that can produce results in seconds rather than hours -- dramatically speeding up the process of drug development -- is being developed at the University of Strathclyde in the UK. Scientists are creating the Mesolens -- a lens that will be capable of showing three-dimensional images within cells and tissues at the same time as showing the whole organism, something which is currently not possible with any single imaging device.

The Mesolens will be able to capture detail in organisms that are too big to be examined satisfactorily by existing microscopes, and will offer a deeper insight into areas such as cancerous tissues and the cortex of the brain.

According to Dr. Brad Amos, a Visiting Scientist at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, "The information provided by microscopes is vital to this process, but can take hours at a time to emerge. The confocal lens can be trained simultaneously on or inside an individual cell and the full organism, with strong resolution, and will have the capacity to deliver 3D images that go far beyond the limitations of 2D representations. This level of detail can open up vast possibilities for discoveries that can contribute to the fight against disease worldwide.”

Dr. Gail McConnell, a Reader at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, is a partner in the research. She said: "Our research fits with Strathclyde's ethos of technical innovation with universal impact. We already have the two-dimensional technology for the lens in place, but a third dimension will allow us to take the revolutionary step of presenting images with a range and versatility which no single imaging platform can currently offer."

The research forms part of Advanced Science & Technology, one of the principal themes of the University’s Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), a world-leading research and technology center transforming the way universities, business, and industry collaborate.

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