December 2022 Roundup

I know, I don’t update this blog enough. When I do, I have too much to talk about. So, instead of a series of full-blown news articles, I’ll provide a summary of updates since my last post, with links to relevant twitter posts where available.

ULTRA technology

I have previously mentioned that we were developing a novel extended-release drug delivery platform (read it here , here and here). We call it Ultra-Long and Tunable Release of Actives (ULTRA). The patent for this technology was filed in October 2022. Meanwhile, development on the technology continues. Earlier this year, we had secured further funding from the Northern Accelerator to accelerate this effort. We are now seeking industrial partners to translate the technology to clinical applications. Interested parties please contact our Business Development Manager, Dr Tim Blackburn.

Litricity collaboration

We collaborate with Litricity, a German company specialising in liquid battery technology, in developing our microneedle biosensors. We were awarded a Wellcome Trust Translational Partnership grant to visit Litricity in Rosenheim, Germany, to perform some laboratory work. Rach and I flew out earlier this month to do just that. It’s been a really fruitful collaboration even at this early stage. We are really grateful to the Wellcome Trust and Litricity for their support.

3D-printed microneedles

We started a collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong (PolyU) to develop 3D-printed microneedle patches for drug delivery and diagnostic applications. In December, Howard Chu and Dr Hin-Chung Lau from PolyU visited our labs in Newcastle to learn about our microneedle technology and perform experiments on the 3D-printed microneedles. As part of this collaboration, two undergraduate MPharm students (Jasmine and Liv) researched 3D-printed microneedles for their final year research project, working closely with the PolyU team. The project has already produced some interesting results. We are looking forward to visiting PolyU in 2023 for the second phase of the project. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to enrich the research experience for our MPharm students by providing an international, multidisciplinary and collaborative environment in which to thrive.

Equipment capabilities

We have recently upgraded our texture analyser, which we rely on heavily to evaluate the mechanical properties of our microneedles. Prior to this upgrade, we already had the capability to record synchronous videos of the tests to help us pinpoint exactly when and how the microneedles reach the limit of their strength. The upgrade is a bespoke solution, designed by yours truly, that enables us to measure the strength of individual microneedles more reliably and more quickly. It uses 3D printing to create custom parts for the texture analyser to achieve this.

We have also recently acquired an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanner, which can be used to rapidly assess gross internal structures in biological and non-biological samples. We will use this to analyse skin penetration of microneedles and other materials we use in our research.

An OCT image of my skin taken using our new OCT scanner.

Personnel changes

Daniel finished his MRes project and graduated with a distinction. Congratulations, Daniel!

Naeem has completed his experiments in our lab and returned to Pakistan to finalise the study.

It has been great working with both Daniel and Naeem. Both have now joined our list of distinguished alumni.

That’s it, folks!

We will be back in 2023. Have a lovely Christmas and happy new year!

Research associate/assistant position available

A research position is now open, for an immediate start, and tenable until 31 July 2022 in the first instance. The closing date for applications is 3 February 2022. Please see the advertisement for full details.

We have described the recent progress we have made in a novel drug delivery technology which, among other things, prolongs drug delivery beyond a month (read about it here , here and here). The research associate/assistant will be responsible for further development work to demonstrate a wide application of the drug delivery technology in various dosage forms, for the delivery of small molecules and macromolecular drugs (e.g. biologics).

This is a collaborative project between the School of Engineering and the School of Pharmacy at Newcastle University. Informal enquiries are welcome.

December news roundup


Happy new year!

Christmas has come and gone, and now we’re in a new year. I didn’t have time to post updates before the Christmas break (as usual), but I’m pleased to announce that 2021 ended pretty well for us.

First, we completed the SETsquared ICURe programme (Cohort 35) to evaluate the market interest in our novel drug delivery technology, and gleaned some pretty encouraging intelligence about how to proceed with commercialisation. It’s early days yet, but the good news is, we’ve been invited to take part in the follow-on programme in 2022. The team has worked extremely hard on this project and I thank everyone involved for taking it this far (special shoutout to Katarina, Wing, Nga, Tarek, Tim and Dale).

Secondly, we have secured £30,000 in additional funding from Newcastle University to further pursue the development and commercialisaton of this technology. We are seeking commercial collaborations/partnerships in this area, so we invite interested stakeholders to get in touch.

Thirdly, and separately, we have been awarded £10,000 in seed-corn funding, thanks to the Wellcome Trust, to investigate a novel diagnostic technology that is minimally invasive, rapid and patient-friendly. This has the potential to replace invasive blood draws and tissue biopsies in disease diagnosis.

I’m excited about these opportunities/challenges and look forward to a fruitful year in 2022.

Funding secured for market validation of drug delivery technology

We have recently secured £30,000 in Innovate UK funding to explore commercialisation options for our drug delivery technology through the ICURe programme. The technology, developed jointly with Dr Katarina Novakovic (School of Engineering) and Dr Wing Man Lau (School of Pharmacy), can deliver drugs through a transdermal microneedle patch continuously for over a month. The ICURe programme provides the project team with opportunities for enterpreneurship training and market validation, with a view to commercialising the technology.

EPSRC PhD Studentship Available

We’re pleased to announce that a PhD studentship is now available in our laboratory and open for applications. The PhD studentship, generously funded by the EPSRC, will fund the tuition fees, living expenses (stipend) and research support (e.g. consumables) for one PhD student for 3.5 years. The student will work under the guidance of Keng, Wing and Katarina to develop a microimplant for drug delivery.

Interested candidates should apply online by following any one of the links below, which also contain full details of the studentship:

Informal enquiries should be directed to

If you know anyone to whom this may be of interest, please forward this on.

We’re hiring

We’re looking for a Research Associate/Assistant to join our lab to develop a smart drug delivery system that empowers patients to self-care. Adverts are out on the University’s job site and

Closing date for applications: 5 December 2020.

We welcome informal enquiries. Please direct them to

Update 18 December 2020: Applications have now closed and we’ve entered the shortlisting stage. Thank you for all your interest.