A breakthrough has been made in the treatment of the most common birth defect in Britain.
New tests on a substance known as hydrogel have discovered that the material may help to treat cleft palates and avoid the use of complex surgery.
The ISIS neutron source at the Science and Technology Facilities Council helped scientists from the University of Oxford, the John Radcliffe Hospital in Osfordshire and the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US to assess the properties of hydrogel.
"ISIS provided us with the high level of structural detail we needed to assess the new material. It gives unique and accurate results that we can't get with any other technique," said Professor David Bucknall from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Around one in every 700 babies in Britain are born with a cleft palate which often requires radical surgery to fix.
Preliminary tests have proven to be a success and clinical trials are expected to begin in early 2011.