Updated on 8 September 2014
Lead researcher Dr Kang Lifeng at NUS holding a microneedle patch in his left hand, and a photomask in his right hand. Photo Courtesy: National University of Singapore
Singapore: Dr Kang Lifeng of the Department of Pharmacy at National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Science has developed a small adhesive patch topped with minuscule needles to encapsulate lidocaine, a common painkiller.
When applied to the skin, the microneedles deliver the drug or collagen rapidly into the skin without any discomfort to the user.
The drug delivery technique could be used clinically to administer painkiller non-invasively to patients, or in home care settings for patients suffering from conditions such as diabetes and cancer. In addition, the novel transdermal delivery system could also be used for cosmetic and skincare purposes to deliver collagen to inner skin layers.
Faster delivery of painkillers is key to effective management of acute and chronic pain conditions. Currently, such drugs are mainly administered through invasive injections, or through the use of conventional transdermal patches, which may have limited efficiency due to variability of drug absorption among individuals.
To address the clinical gap, Dr Kang, together with Dr Jaspreet Singh Kochhar, who had recently graduated from NUS with a doctorate degree in Pharmacy, and their team members, used a photolithography based process to fabricate a novel transdermal patch with polymeric microneedles. The tiny needles are encapsulated with lidocaine, a common painkiller known for its pain-relief property.