Dr. Guillermo Ameer Discusses Biomaterials with HIVE

HIVE’s seminar series continued on the 9th of March with a presentation from Professor Guillermo Ameer of Northwestern University. Professor Ameer is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at Northwestern and the director of the Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering (CARE), and the goal of his research in biomaterials is to improve outcomes for patients who suffer tissue loss or dysfunction as a result of surgery or disease.

The potential applications of biomaterials innovations are extensive, and CARE’s areas of research include surgical applications for end stage bladder disease and ligament reconstruction as well as clinical applications to improve wound healing, especially in diabetic patients for whom issues such as diabetic foot ulcers can result in extreme measures such as need for amputation of extremities.

Professor Ameer’s lecture focused on two surgical applications of biodegradable biomaterials: bladder surgery and ACL reconstruction. Currently, treatment for end stage bladder disease is often a reconstructive surgery where the bladder dome is removed and replaced with a section of intestinal tissue. This strategy is inherently limited by the differences between native bladder and intestinal tissue – post-op bladder volume is lower than healthy bladder volume, and patients can suffer pain and be limited to urinating through a catheter. In contrast, Professor Ameer’s lab has been able to very successfully imitate native bladder tissue in a baboon model, even establishing the same bladder volume post-surgery. They have had similar success with a ceramic-hybrid biomaterial engineered as a sort of screw to be used in ligament reconstructive surgeries. By utilising a “screw” which can be pushed instead of twisted into the bone surgeons dramatically reduce inflammation and bone scarring, and the material patented by Professor Ameer’s lab is biodegradable, so with time the patient’s own bone and ligamental tissue almost completely take over the surgical site. Regenerative engineering shows the potential to vastly improve quality of life for patients after surgery, but is not confined to surgical applications.

Peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients can lead to injury, the outcomes of which are quite serious because of ischemia in the lower extremities as a result of the disease. While in comparatively early stages, Professor Ameer is also conducting research into using biomaterials in order to facilitate wound closure, a potential innovation with pressing applications in diabetics and the possibility of decreasing healing times for many patients.

The impressive work being done by Professor Ameer and his lab effectively combines engineering, medicine, and biological sciences in order to develop reliable, scalable tools which can successfully improve outcomes of tissue and organ transplants, and have the potential to positively impact scores of patients by both decreasing rehabilitation time and increasing long-term success.

2021-03-16 00:00:00