A Saudi woman Ghada Mutlaq Al-Mutairi, 39, using her expertise in chemistry, invented a nano-capsule that can carry drugs to points of inflammation in the body and release drugs to treat them using a laser. The US Congress selected her work as one of the four most important inventions in the country in 2012.
She is a faculty member at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and director of the Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine.
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.” As reported by Arab News.
Al-Mutairi talked to Al-Riyadh newspaper recently about her invention. She said biology operates at nanoscale and therefore materials designed at that size can respond more effectively to disease. At present, doctors have very little control of where, when, and how drugs act in the body. “We want these processes to work precisely in order to minimize off-target effects,” Al-Mutairi said, as reported by Saudi Gazette.
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.
In her opinion, innovation has no limits; currently she is supporting research aimed at finding ways to effectively remove fat from human body.
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