Cardiff University is launching the new Medicines Discovery Institute, stepping up the development of new drugs for mental health such as anxiety and central nervous system conditions.

The new institute, which is part funded by the Welsh Government, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the European Regional Development Fund, will develop novel medications to improve the lives of people across the world.

Improving anxiety medications will be a major goal of the Institute, an area of research where there have been no major advances since early 1960s.

The team will focus on the development of new drugs that reduce the side effects associated with the benzodiazepine class of anxiolytic drugs, thanks to a £3.5 million investment from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The MRC has also provided a grant that will allow the team to develop improved medication options for people with fragile X syndrome - the most common inherited cause of learning disabilities.

Focusing on a protein known to regulate the connections between nerve cells, the team aim to develop a novel medication that will make a difference to the lives of individuals and their families living with the condition.

The £14-million centre is located within the highly successful School of Biosciences, and will also provide an excellent opportunity for training and inspiring the next generation of medicines discovery scientists.

The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “Investing in new scientific research is vital to our universities and the long-term health of the wider Welsh economy. Our £95m Sêr Cymru programme is instrumental in keeping Wales ahead of the game in many areas of scientific innovation.

“The Medicines Discovery Institute will provide the world-class facilities needed to support pioneering research and further develop our capacity to produce exciting and often life-changing research here in Wales.”