Saudi chemist invents new medical technique

Updated 02 February 2016
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Saudi chemist invents new medical technique

JEDDAH: A Saudi woman has used her expertise in chemistry to develop a new device that can carry drugs to points of inflammation in the body.

Ghada Mutlaq Al-Mutairi, 39, who currently lives in the United States and holds a doctorate in chemical engineering, works at the University of California. She received a $3 million global innovation award from HIN, the largest organization supporting scientific research in the United States.
Her device, which was recognized as one of the four most important inventions by the United States Congress in 2012, provides a way to penetrate the body, detect inflammation, and provide treatment using nano-capsules containing medicine, according to reports.
Al-Mutairi said the technology has been successful in treating eye and rheumatoid patients in the United States, with possible applications in other fields including agriculture, engineering and manufacturing. This work is now taking place, she said.
She said she has been motivated by a determination to do something good for humanity. “Ten years ago I started asking heart surgeons what their biggest problem was. Most said it was blockages of arteries that lead to strokes, specifically accumulation of fat in artery walls with age. But the problem was cardiologists could not determine if there was inflammation especially in the early stages.”
“I began to ask about how to find and eliminate inflammation. As I began researching this I came up with the idea of developing a nano-capsule with light which can be dispersed throughout the body, to find and treat inflammation with drugs.”
She said the development took 10 years, and by 2011 they were able to produce a substance that interacts with the inflammation. “Then in 2013 we were able to develop the nano-capsule technology that does not dissolve in water and only opens on contact with inflammation in the human body.”
Al-Mutairi’s invention has attracted the interest of several firms, including a Japanese agricultural company and Pfizer, who purchased a license for its use from the university. There has also been interest from other pharmaceutical, chemical, engineering, and solar companies around the world.
Al-Mutairi earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2000 from Occidental University in Los Angeles, and her master’s in biochemistry from the University of California. After obtaining her doctorate degree in chemical engineering in 2005, she went on to produce numerous studies and a book that has been translated into German and Japanese. She then worked as a professor in California.
Al-Mutairi is currently working with her brother Khaled Al-Mutairi, a well-known plastic surgeon in the United States, to support research in plastic surgery, specifically developing a new chemical to rid the body of excess fat.
Al-Mutairi has three brothers and one sister, all of whom are successful scientists and doctors in the United States and Saudi Arabia. “My mother studied chemistry, and all I can say is we are who we are because of her, a smart woman who dedicated her life to her five children.”
As for success, Al-Mutairi said this requires a combination of optimism and determination, as well as hard work, clarity of vision, a firm purpose, and a competitive environment.
She said she follows up on developments in Saudi Arabia with her mother. “I love my country and am proud of it, whether I am in the United States or elsewhere in the world.”
Al-Mutairi’s family members describe her as someone who has a “love for science, is dedicated to her work, and is able to focus and see things others do not.”


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 1 min 17 sec ago
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.