The Almutairi lab is highly interdisciplinary, combining creative synthetic chemistry, pharmaceutics, bioengineering, and nanotechnology. They develop responsive polymers and polymer-based materials with sophisticated architectures to address a wide range of challenges in biological research and medicine.
Prof. Almutairi’s group takes a unique approach to creating nanoparticles that release their contents in response to a stimulus, designing polymers that fall apart into small molecules. This should make their nanomaterials especially useful in vivo, as small molecules are more rapidly cleared than large polymer chains. Further, it’s enabled them to make several breakthrough polymers, including the first near infrared-degradable polymer and the first nanoparticle to release in response to disease-relevant concentrations of peroxide. The group has also contributed another innovative concept to the field by introducing two logic gate polymers (one is pH-responsive and one responds to the combination of peroxide and low pH), which degrade in a two step response to allow rapid release while maintaining stability in the absence of stimuli.
The lab also develops tools for the nanoparticle field, including several facile characterization and formulation methods. Their work in characterization focuses on assessing kinetics of cargo release; they’ve introduced several in situ methods that are more reliable than those commonly used. In the process of trying new formulations, they followed a side project to yield a method to easily create layered hydrogels useful for tissue engineering.
Nguyen Huu VA, Luo J, Zhu J, Zhu J, Patel S, Boone AS, Mahmoud EA, McFearin CL, Olejniczak J, de Gracia Lux C, Lux J, Fomina N, Huynh M, Zhang K, Almutairi A. Light-responsive nanoparticle depot to control release of a small molecule angiogenesis inhibitor in the eye. J Control Release 2015; 200: 71-77.
de Gracia Lux C, Joshi-Barr S, Nguyen T, Mahmoud EA, Schopf E, Fomina N, and Almutairi A. Biocompatible polymeric nanoparticles degrade and release cargo in response to biologically relevant levels of hydrogen peroxide. J Amer Chem Soc 2012; 134 (38): 15758-15764.
Karpiak JV, Ner Y, and Almutairi A. Density gradient multilayer polymerization for creating complex tissue. Advanced Materials 2012; 24 (11): 1466-1470.
Full list of publications on lab website