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MIT Technology Review

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  • Guillermo Ameer

    Age:
    33

    Guillermo Ameer is creating a set of high-tech tools to manage diverse medical conditions. “Most people in science tend to focus on one specific problem,” says the biomedical engineer, a native of Panama. His aim is broader: “I want to build things useful to people’s health.” His top tool to date is called biorubber: a rubber-band-like material that he helped invent during a postdoctoral fellowship. Stretchy, cheap, and biodegradable, biorubber could eventually be used to replace damaged heart or lung tissues. Ameer’s lab at Northwestern University is currently developing second-generation biorubbers with varying degrees of elasticity and degradation rates to act as scaffolds for engineered blood vessels or ligaments. While the assistant professor of biomedical engineering has two patents pending on that work, he has already received a patent for another innovation: a cartridge that uses genetically engineered antibodies to filter a protein called beta-2-microglobulin from the blood of kidney disease patients. Over time, this protein- which the traditional filters in dialysis machines don’t catch- can leave painful deposits in bones, joints, and tendons. Partly funded by the National Kidney Foundation and Baxter Healthcare, Ameer’s lab is refining the biofilter so clinical trials may be conducted- which means people could soon find out just how useful Ameer’s tools are.