Researchers have been awarded £2.95m to develop technology that uses tiny particles of gold to find new drugs.
Scientists at the universities of Nottingham and Exeter have been given the cash to build a scanner that looks for molecules to fight disease.
It will analyse the interaction between chemical receptors that occur naturally in the body with particles of gold.
The receptor and the gold particles scatter light in a particular way, which can show if drugs are suitable.
Dr Andrew Shaw, of the University of Exeter, said: "The potential for this new technology is enormous.
"Pharmaceutical companies have vast libraries of compounds that they hope could be developed into potent therapies for disease.
"But for a drug to be useful it has to be determined whether it will interact with the body's own pathways successfully.
"If this new technology is as good as we think it could be, we will be able to scan entire catalogues of compounds for suitability within a matter of weeks."
Professor Paul O'Shea, of the University of Nottingham, said: "The award will revolutionise the way that prospective drugs are screened for their activity with millions of tests possible in less than a second."