School of Pharmacy

Staff Profile

Dr Keng Wooi Ng

Lecturer in Pharmaceutics

Background

Keng gained both his MPharm and PhD in drug delivery from Cardiff University. He undertook postdoctoral training at Imperial College London and University of Reading.

Prior to joining Newcastle University in October 2017, he taught pharmaceutical sciences at University of Brighton, where he also led a research team developing innovative technologies for drug delivery and disease detection in the skin.

Research

Keng's research focuses on the development of novel technologies for drug delivery and rapid disease diagnosis in the skin. 

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Minimally invasive disease detection via the skin

Keng's research team has developed 'microneedle' (i.e. microscopic needle) devices that can recognise biomarkers in the skin. The devices are designed to make skin disease diagnosis more rapid and reliable but less invasive than conventional methods. Each device carries an array of microneedles that can be inserted into the skin to extract and analyse biomarkers from various skin depths, with minimal discomfort to the user. Multiple biomarkers can be analysed simultaneously to increase the speed and reliability of the test. The technique may replace invasive skin biopsies as a way to analyse skin biomarkers. It is rapid (analysis takes only a few hours), specific, highly sensitive (it can detect protein markers at 10-8 mg/mL, or close to a trillionth of a gram per millilitre of fluid), inexpensive and requires no specialist equipment to operate. The current goal is to perfect the device as an accessible, rapid and accurate point-of-care diagnostic technology for a range of skin diseases, such as skin cancer.


Enhanced gene and drug delivery via the skin

Traditionally, dermal drug delivery has been severely hindered by the barrier properties of the skin. Keng's work on dermal drug delivery aims to widen the scope of drugs deliverable via the skin, by focusing on two approaches: physical and chemical penetration enhancement. For example, genes and large proteins, which otherwise do not get past the skin barrier, can be delivered successfully into the skin using microneedles. On the other hand, chemical penetration enhancers such as alcohols, fatty acids and terpenes can be added to dermal products to markedly enhance drug absorption. An area of specific interest is in understanding the mechanisms of action of these penetration enhancement techniques and identify synergistic interactions to inform formulation design.


Research facilities

Keng's research benefits from facilities in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University, including state-of-the-art dermal permeation analysis, thermal analysis (DMA, TGA, DSC), spectroscopy (FTIR/NIR, UV/Vis), particle analysis and imaging equipment located within the School of Pharmacy.

Teaching

I teach pharmaceutical sciences on the Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) programme. Topics covered include dosage form design and pharmaceutical manufacturing. These are delivered in a way that integrates scientific principles with the practice of pharmacy.

Publications