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KSU's Dr. Al-DeyabA King Saud University research team from the University’s Petrochemicals Research Chair (PRC) made two cutting-edge presentations last March at the 241st National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society held in the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

The American Chemical Society (ACS), founded in 1876, is the world’s largest scientific society with chapters in more than 100 countries, including Saudi Arabia, and counting approximately 163,000 members. The ACS also is one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information, its flagship journal having begun three years after the society’s founding.

The KSU team, was led by Dr. Salem S. Al-Deyab, PRC supervisor and Polymer MS program coordinator and PRC assistant professor Mohamed H. El-Newehy. Their presentations were titled “Nanospider Technology for the Production of Nylon-6 Nanofibers for Biomedical Applications” and “Antimicrobial Electrospun Nonofibers Produced by Nanospider Technology.”

The first project revolves around the use of infinitely small nylon fibers for anti-microbial purposes. The nanospider technology was used as a modifying factor of the electric segregation methods in producing these fibers.

The second project addresses the preparation of new types of antimicrobial substances based on poly polymers, vinyl alcohol, polyethylene oxide, using the electrospinning method. Again, the nanospider technology was used as a modifying factor in the production of these fibers.

The enthusiastically-received presentations were the most recent milestones for the two professors and the KSU Petrochemical Research Chair. Last February, the PRC was honored for its distinction in academic publishing in international academic journals indexed in the ISI 2010 data base, and the Chair was inducted into the KSU Rector’s 2010-2011 Honors List for Research Chairs.

Professors Al-Deyab and El-Newehy were also cited among the University’s Top 10 Researchers.

The stature of the ACS which accorded the PRC to present its projects further elevated the KSU projects further importance, even prompting a press conference – in which Professor El-Newehy presided – with the theme being that antibiotics wrapped in nanofibers turn resistant disease-producing bacteria into ghosts.

Encapsulating antibiotics inside nanofibers like a mummy inside a sarcophagus, he explained, gives them the amazing ability to destroy drug-resistant bacteria so completely that scientists described the remains virtually vanish. Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 people in the United States alone develop such infections each year, with nearly 20,000 deaths. Health care costs from those infections may exceed $20 billion annually.

“The rapid emergence of bacteria to commonly-used antibiotics has become a serious public health problem,” Dr. Al-Newehy said. “Our approach is not a new antibiotic, but a new way of delivering existing antibiotics. That approach could make new treatments available to patients much faster than trying to discover and develop brand-new medicines.”

King Saud University ChemistryDr. El-Newehy said the process involves putting common antibiotics inside nanofibers made of polyvinyl alcohol and polyethylene oxide. These wisps of plastic-like material are so small that peach hair or a strand of spider silk is gigantic by comparison. Nanofibers can’t even be seen under a regular microspope, and almost a billion could be lined up side-by-side along the length of a yardstick.

The ACS will hold a fall conference late next August in Denver, while the Saudi International Chemical Sciences Chapter of the ACS and the Bahrain Society of Chemists has scheduled the 2nd International Laboratory Technology Conference and Exhibition for next October 8-12 in Doha, Qatar.

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