Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1

Submission by the Council for the Central Laboratories of the Research Councils (CCLRC)

  1.  The Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) owns and operates the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and the Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire. These world-class institutions support the research community by providing access to advanced facilities and an extensive scientific and technical expertise.

  2.  One such facility is the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS), the UK's brightest source of ultraviolet light and X-rays, which is based at Daresbury Laboratory and used for research in materials and life sciences. Industry accesses the SRS via the DARTS service and there has been significant usage of the experimental facilities at Daresbury by the pharmaceutical industry.

  3.  It is primarily at the fundamental research stage that the pharmaceutical industry uses the SRS rather than at the production stage, although the potential to replicate production processes and monitor reactions in real time is gaining in interest. The characteristics of the X-rays generated by the synchrotron mean that problems which are simply intractable in the home laboratory become routine and researchers are able to collect data more quickly than would be possible using their own laboratory resources. Typical experiments include target identification and lead generation using protein crystallography.

  4.  Rapid screening of target-lead complexes is becoming ever more important and developments in robotics at Daresbury are aiding this. Further down the chain, the identification and characterisation of drug polymorphs is of utmost importance when protecting intellectual property and for regulatory approval. A new treatment developed by Organon for use in anaesthesia was partially characterised using data from the SRS and it is now in clinical trials both in the EU and USA. All of the income generated by this and other industrial activity on the SRS is used for reinvestment in the facilities of CCLRC to benefit the wider research community.

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