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.”


Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

Updated 21 May 2019
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Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

  • Iran-backed militias have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, says analyst
  • This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017

JEDDAH: The Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted and destroyed two missiles launched from Yemen by Iran-aligned Houthi militias on Monday. 

The missiles were reported to have been heading toward Makkah and Jeddah. 

A spokesman for the Arab Coalition said that the missiles were destroyed over Taif in the early morning, and that fragments from the first projectile had landed in Wadi Jalil, a valley that extends toward Makkah.

Residents in Jeddah told Arab News that they heard a loud blast early on Monday morning.

This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017.

Videos circulating on social media reportedly show the second missile being intercepted and destroyed in the skies over King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry denounced the Houthi attack and commended the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces for their vigilance. 

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said: “This isn’t the first time that the Houthis and their masters in Tehran have fired missiles close to the holy city of Makkah.” 

They have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, he added. 

“They care nothing for the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan. What they did today, and what they did in the past, clearly reveal their sinister designs to strike at the heart of the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

“Now is the time for all Muslim nations in the world to come to the defense of the holy land. Our sacred places are under attack from Iran, the Houthis and their militias,” he added.

“Mere condemnation won’t do. Iran and the Houthis have crossed a red line, and this calls for deterrent action against Tehran,” he said.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government also condemned the Houthis’ attempt to target Makkah, calling it “a full-fledged terrorist attack.”

Monday’s aggression came as Saudi Arabia warned that recent drone attacks against its oil-pumping stations by the Houthis will jeopardize UN peace efforts in Yemen and lead to further escalation in the region.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi ambassador to the UN, said “seven explosive drones” directed by the Houthis attacked pumping stations on May 14 in the cities of Dawadmi and Afif “on the east-west oil pipeline that transfers Saudi oil to Yanbu port and to the rest of the world.”

He urged UN Security Council members, in a letter circulated on Monday, “to disarm this terrorist militia in order to prevent the escalation of these attacks which increase regional tensions and raise the risks of a broader regional confrontation.”

Al-Shehri said Monday’s attack is a reminder to Muslim nations about the clear and present danger from Iran.  “Tehran timed the attack just as King Salman has called for a meeting in Makkah to discuss the threat from Iran to the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

Saudi security forces have intercepted and destroyed 227 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis at the Kingdom since 2015.