COVID-19 Pandemic : South Korea Moon Jae-in Government KCDC's War Against the Novel Coronavirus
AprilBio-Celros Biotech Signs a Joint Research Agreement for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Dual Antibody Treatment
POSTECH Developed Stem Cell Therapy for Myocardial Infarction Using Mussel Adhesive Protein
POSTECH Developed Rapid Virus Diagnostic Technology Using Aptamer
MDimune Acquired US Patent for BioDrone Source Technology
Philosys Healthcare Signed Supply Contracts with German and Greek Companies for COVID-19 Test Kit 'Gmate COVID-19'
Sanofi Launches Once-Weekly Dosing Treatment of Hemophilia B in Korea
G+FLAS Life Sciences Acquired Patent for New Types of CRISPR
GeneMatrix Achieved CE Marking and Began Exporting its COVID-19 Detection Kit
G+FLAS Life Sciences Succeeded in Expressing COVID-19 Recombinant Vaccine Candidate Through Plant-Based Platform
POSTECH Developed Photoacoustic Imaging Using Nano-Sized Nickel Contrast Agent and Laser
Photoacoustic imaging is attracting worldwide attention as a bioimaging device that does not use radiation and harm the body. Recently, researches for observing deep tissues have been actively conducted to apply photoacoustic imaging to clinical practice.POSTECH(Pohang University of Science and Technology) researchers, including prof. Cheol-hong Kim, Byul-lee Park, prof. Hyung-woo Kim, and Kyung-min Lee, suggested deep tissue photoacoustic imaging. It uses nano-sized nickel-based contrast agent and 1064nm lasers. The result came out to be 3.4cm, and this is the deepest of the preclinical studies so far in vivo. ▲ Photoacoustic Imaging Before and After Implantation of Contrast Agents in the Rat Gastrointestinal Tract (Image by POSTECH) The photoacoustic imaging detects and images a sound wave (photoacoustic) signal generated by instantaneous thermal expansion of the tissue that absorbs the light when irradiated with human tissue. While conventional imaging techniques can only observe very shallow depths (~ 1mm), photoacoustic imaging has the advantage of acquiring images based on optical contrast up to several cms in human tissue.On the other hand, studies about photoacoustic contrast agents are actively progressed to observe various organs located in deep tissues deeply, but it is difficult to deliver short-wavelength light (650 to 900nm) deep into the human body. Because of this, there was a limit that it is not suitable to observe deep tissue.Therefore, the research team introduced deep tissue photoacoustic imaging using nickel-based nanoparticle contrast agents with strong absorption of long-wavelength light (1064nm). The biocompatibility of all nickel-based nanoparticles was verified, and photoacoustic images were acquired at depths of up to 3.4 cm by injecting nanoparticles into the lymph nodes, gastrointestinal tract and bladder of rats.The new photoacoustic imaging, unlike CT, which requires radioactive materials, can help diagnose diseases in deep tissues that are not invasive without the risk of exposure. In addition, the 1064nm wavelength laser is expected to be clinically available soon as it is relatively inexpensive and can be used with general commercial ultrasound equipment.This research was supported by the ICT Talent Cultivation Project of the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Health and Medical Technology R & D Project of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Pioneer Project of the Korea Research Foundation. (Theranostics) 'cover paper.The finding was published in a cover paper in Theranostics, an international journal of molecular imaging and therapy.
Samsung BioLogics Signs CDO Contract with STCube for Immuno-oncology
On March 3rd, Samsung BioLogics (CEO Tae-han Kim) and STCube (CEO Hyun-Jin Jung) signed a Contract Development Organization (CDO) contract for STT-003 antibody, an immune checkpoint inhibitor candidate. An immune checkpoint inhibitor is a drug that helps immune cells attack cancer cells by activating immune function as much as possible through suppression of the immune response avoidance signals of cancer cells.Through the contract, Samsung BioLogics plans to produce global clinical and non-clinical materials as well as providing development services ranging from cell line development of STT-003 antibody to process development, clinical sample production, and application of Investigational New Drug (IND). Samsung BioLogics has been building track records rapidly since expanding into the CDO field in 2018 and carrying out a total of 47 projects to date. And STCube selected Samsung BioLogics as a partner company for the immuno-oncology development due to its world's best CMO, CDO, and CRO competitiveness. Decisions on both sides took only two weeks from the initial discussion stage to the completion of the contract.STT-003 antibody, discovered at the R&D center of STCube, Maryland, USA, is a candidate for the immune checkpoint inhibitor that has been under joint research and signed Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) with multinational pharmaceuticals. STT-003 is identified as a novel immune gateway that extensively expresses over the surfaces of immune and cancer cells, suppressing their immune functions. In particular, STT-003 is expressed higher than PD-L1 in various cancer cells, and the anti-cancer effect of STT-003 antibody is expected to be superior to the existing anti-cancer drug, PD-1/PD-L1 antibody.STCube plans to conduct global clinical studies sequentially starting next year to demonstrate the clinical safety and efficacy of the combination therapy of the STT-003 antibody as well as monotherapy. In addition, STCube is also preparing for the global clinical trials on the STT-003 antibody with leading medical institutions such as MD Anderson Cancer Center."We have signed a contract with Samsung BioLogics, a global CMO, CDO, and CRO company, to produce first-in-class STT-003 antibody, laying the foundation for stable implementation of global clinical trials," Hyun-Jin Jung, CEO of STCube said. "So far, several globally recognized immunologists have agreed to serve on the scientific advisory board for phase I clinical studies of STT-003 antibody, including the head of clinical research at a world-leading clinical institution for cancer treatment.""We are proud to contribute to the development of this exciting novel target anti-cancer drug candidate through our continued partnership," said Tae-han Kim, CEO of Samsung BioLogics. "As a world-leading CMO, CDO, and CRO partner, we will continue to offer Faster & Better service to our clients for maximum client satisfaction through Samsung's competitive advantages: faster timeline, excellent quality, and outstanding capability."
S.Biomedics Has Been Approved for Clinical Trials on Periorbital Wrinkle Cell Therapy Using 3D Fibroblast Assembly
On February 28, S.Biomedics Co., Ltd. (CEO Kang Se-il), a Korean biomedical company specialized in the field of stem cell therapy, has been approved for clinical trials on the product of periorbital wrinkle cell therapy that uses its autologous skin-derived fibroblast aggregates (product name: FECS-DF) by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. The periorbital wrinkle cell therapy was developed using the company's original platform technology, "three-dimensional microstructure formation technology (technical name: FECS – Functionally Enhanced Cell Spheroid)." The clinical trial of cell therapy with cell aggregates is the first case in Korea. The trial is to evaluate safety and efficacy for 24 weeks in subjects with periorbital wrinkles and is scheduled to be conducted in the first half of this year at the Department of Dermatology, Chung-Ang University Hospital.The product's technology induces the self-organization of cells by coating the surface of the culture plate with bioactive proteins. S. Biomedics and a team led by Dr. Sang-heon Kim at Smart Tissue Engineering & Materials Lab (STEM Lab) of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) are conducting joint research and are continuously searching for clinical applications. Autologous skin-derived fibroblast aggregates are made by culturing fibroblasts isolated from the skin tissue of the patient and then structuring it into three-dimensional microstructure spheroids. As a result, the interaction between cells occurs actively, and the production of extracellular matrix such as collagen and elastin, growth factor related to tissue regeneration, and cytokines has increased compared to conventional cell therapy.In particular, the extracellular matrix constituting the three-dimensional microstructure formed by the present technology is highly organized similar to the state in vivo. So it is expected that the engraftment rate and cell survival rate in the in vivo injection would be very high. The therapeutic effect is also expected to improve compared to existing cell therapy products.Meanwhile, as a company specialized in cell therapy products, S.Biomedics Co., Ltd. is intensively researching and developing three-dimensional microstructures and embryonic stem cells with its original technology platforms. The company is developing a treatment for critical limb ischemia using three-dimensional microstructure formation technology and already applied for the clinical trial at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. Besides, S.Biomedics is conducting a total of three clinical research programs by developing acne scar treatment and embryonic stem cell-derived spinal cord injury treatment.
Kainos Medicine Is at the End of Phase III Clinical Trials of Anti-HIV Drug in China
As an anti-HIV drug developed by Kainos Medicine, Inc., is entering the final stage of phase III clinical trials in China, royalty sales are expected to be high through commercial sales. Kainos Medicine, which is planning to merge with Hana Financial Eleventh Special Purpose Acquisition Co (SPAC), announced that it is ready for the injection to the last patient in the first half of this year as the Phase III clinical trials of the anti-HIV drug, KM-023, proceeded smoothly. The technology of KM-023 had been transferred to a Chinese pharmaceutical company, Jiangsu Aidea Pharmaceutical. Kainos Medicine stated that the safety of KM-023 is competitive and will be able to replace conventional drugs such as Efavirenz and Rilpivirin. Contrary to the existing anti-HIV drugs showing side effects related to birth defects and degenerative brain diseases, KM-023 has no related side effects in Phase I clinical trial and has been shown to have excellent antiviral effects. And another positive factor is that even if 25% of the amount is used, it shows the same effect as the existing drug. Kainos Medicine transferred the technology of KM-023 to Jiangsu Aidea Pharmaceutical in 2014 after completing the first phase of clinical trials in Korea. In response, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has designated KM-023 as a fast track review in 2017, given the increasing number of patients who give up treatment due to expensive treatment costs. After analyzing the results of Phase I clinical trials, Phase IIA was shortly progressed in recognition of its excellent efficacy as a therapeutic agent. Currently, KM-023's copyright in China is owned by Jiangsu Aidea Pharmaceutical, and Kainos Medicine is a global distributor. Kainos Medicine received a full $1.7 million as licensing fees from Jiangsu Aidea Pharmaceutical in 2017, and will receive 2% of the sales of single-and complex-agents as royalties. Kainos Medicine said, "There is a very low dropout rate in phase III clinical trials that are currently underway, so the expectation of KM-023 is high. In addition, as part of the Chinese government's pharmaceutical innovation business policy, KM-023 plans to sell prototypes under the active support and management of the Chinese government. And we aim to have a 30% market share within three years after launch."
T&R Biofab Acquired Patent for 3D Bioprinting Artificial Blood Vessel Manufacturing Technology
A Korean 3D bioprinting company, T&R Biofab Co., Ltd. (CEO Won-Soo Yoon), obtained a patent for the '3D printing system for artificial blood vessel manufacturing and artificial blood vessel manufacturing method using the system' in Korea. This patent is about the technology for manufacturing artificial blood vessels that can be implanted in the body using a 3D bioprinting method. It is a new concept of 3D bioprinting technology differentiated from the existing method through the fusion of polymer printing technology for external shape fixation and cell printing technology of microvascular tissue. In particular, the technology prints the company's bio-inks and living cells together to produce artificial tubular tissues that are similar to the actual biological tissues. It can precisely implement not only structural shapes but also biological functions. Moreover, since it can also be applied to the production of artificial airways or artificial esophagus, as well as artificial blood vessels, it is expected to be further utilized in the future. T&R Biofab said that if the technology is commercialized, it will be able to receive great response not only in domestic but also in overseas markets, and will offer innovative alternatives for the treatment of vascular diseases such as myocardial infarction and stroke. Besides, the company emphasized that it would focus on R&D to advance technology further and speed up the commercialization and industrialization.
IBS Found a Fluorescent Material for Precision Diagnosis of Diabetes
Techniques have been developed to quickly and accurately diagnose the development and progression of diabetes. The study was conducted by the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) research team led by Chang, Young-Tae (Professor, Department of Chemistry, Pohang University of Science and Technology) at the Center for Self-assembly and Complexity. They have developed a new PiF‧Pancreatic islet Fluorinated probe that can be used for both precision diagnosis and biopsy of diabetes through joint research at home and abroad. The diagnosis of diabetes usually involves measuring the concentration of glucose in the blood (blood sugar). However, it is difficult to keep track of the disease progression with only blood sugar information in diabetes, which has a number of complex factors. If it becomes possible to directly measure the condition of the pancreatic beta cells responsible for insulin secretion, a more accurate diagnosis will be available. ▲ In vitro image after injecting PiF (Image by IBS) Until now, the only way of the analysis was to remove some pancreas surgically. However, it was impossible to repeat the surgical method, and there was a limitation of finding all the pancreatic islets unevenly distributed in the pancreas and measure the amount quickly. In addition, it was also challenging to determine the number of beta cells varying with disease progression using an analysis technique that takes one to two days. The research team has developed a tool for non-invasively visualizing beta cells and measuring the mass of healthy beta cells. They first selected compounds that fluoresce when they bind to insulin secreted from pancreatic beta cells. They then pre-introduced fluorine (F) atoms into candidate compounds for use as the contrast medium of positron emission tomography (PET), and finally sorted out PiF, which explicitly detects pancreatic beta cells. Subsequently, the team injected PiF into the tails of type 1 diabetic mice that induced beta-cell destruction. As a result of an optical microscopic observation 2 hours after the injection, it was confirmed that PiF selectively detected only pancreatic beta cells. The treatment time was significantly reduced compared to the conventional biopsy, which required more complicated procedures and more than one day. As more insulin is bound, the fluorescence will get stronger, so based on the intensity of fluorescence, the amount of healthy pancreatic beta cells can also be identified. ▲ Fluorescence imaging using PiF after transplanting pancreatic islets (Image by IBS) Diabetes patients who are unable to control their blood sugar levels receive treatment of transplanting pancreatic islets as a last resort. At the time, PiF can be used to monitor the success of transplantation. The research team transplanted 1000 separated pancreatic islets into mice's hepatic portal vein and injected PiF the next day. As a result, the PiF fluorescence signal of mice transplanted with pancreatic islets was significantly higher than that of mice without transplants. This means that based on the fluorescent signal, the transplanted pancreatic islet can be tested for proper fixation and function in the original tissue. The research team confirmed the efficacy of PiF as a PET contrast medium through animal experiments. The fluorine atoms introduced into PiF were replaced with radioactive isotopes (fluorine-18) and then administered to mice. Isotopes differ only in the weight of their atoms, but their chemical properties are almost identical. Therefore, the features of PiF with high selectivity for beta cells are reflected in PET images. PET analysis revealed a clear distribution of PiF in the pancreas. PiF reached the pancreas in 30 minutes and showed the highest absorption state, and most quickly escaped after 60 minutes. This means that when used as a contrast medium during diagnosis, the side effects are less likely to appear. The findings were published on February 10 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (IF 14.695). ▲ PET-CT images using PiF (Image by IBS)
Access Bio Is Licensed for the Flu Diagnostic Test by US FDA
On February 24, Access Bio Korea Inc. announced that its flu diagnostic test acquired a sales permit from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The rapid diagnostic test, "CareStart™ Flu A&B Plus," which has been approved by the US FDA, is a product that can detect influenza type A and B by immunochromatography after taking samples of patients with flu symptoms. It is a field diagnosis product that quickly determines an infection within 10 minutes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from last winter to February, the number of deaths in the United States from the flu has exceeded 12,000. With the mounting criticism and concern over the spread of flu each year, the demand for flu diagnosis is also overgrowing. Access Bio sated, "It took a lot of time to get the final permission as the licensing standards, including the US FDA's mandatory performance requirements, have been tightened for effective flu virus control. It also means that market entry barriers have increased, and thus high entry barriers will be a positive factor for the market expansion of Access Bio." Also, "Through the US FDA 510(k) Clearance, we can sell the diagnostic test not only to the US but also to Canada. In the case of Europe, the approval from the US FDA can be used as a reference, so it is expected to make it easier to secure sales channels." Access Bio plans to diversify its sales structure from Africa to advanced countries such as the US, Canada, and Europe with its flu diagnosis test.
T&R Biofab Succeeded in Developing Liver Organoids through 3D Printing
A Korean 3D bioprinting company, T&R Biofab Co., Ltd. (CEO Won-Soo Yoon), succeeded in developing 3D bioprinted liver organoids through the joint research with the Korea Polytechnic University (KPU). The liver organoids have the cell array structure of the actual liver tissue. On February 20, the research results were published in a paper in the journal 'Small' (Impact Factor: 10.856), the world's top international journal in biomaterials. Concept map of liver organoid printing technique (left) and photograph of 3D printed liver organoids (right) [Image by: T&R Biofab] The existing liver organoids were like aggregates that gathered cells in three dimensions. So, T&R Biofab emphasized that the organoids developed in this study embody 3D printing of liver cells as well as vascular tissues and liver lobules in a very similar way to real livers.Not only the shape of the liver but also its function are similar to those of the real liver. The secretion of albumin and enzymes, which is a main function of the liver, is superior to the conventional method. Moreover, the toxicity drug reaction can be very similar to the real liver. It is expected to be a breakthrough technology to replace animal experiments in the field of new drug development as a model for evaluating liver toxicity of new drug candidates.Besides, the technique presented in this paper can be applied to the development of various organs, such as muscles and nerves, in addition to the liver, as it can simultaneously print blood vessels and cells with complicated structures. T&R Biofab said that technology has already been registered for patents in Korea, and foreign patents are also being examined by individual countries.
Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital Enables to Check Availability of Visit Through Mobile
Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital (Director Sung Ho Lee) changed the access control system that has been in place since February 19 to prevent the infection of COVID-19. Now, it is possible to check the availability of a visit through mobile in advance. In the past, a visitor was asked to fill out a questionnaire asking for the name, visiting day, the number of visitors, whether visited overseas within the last 14 days or not and the visited country. However, visitors were inconvenient as the waiting time was long at the entrance due to the time for writing the questionnaire and the constraints of space. In addition, many patients who visited the hospital without knowing the changed standards of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to go back. ▲ Visitors need a mobile pass to visit the hospital. (Photo by: Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital) Therefore, Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital is sending the patient a questionnaire through mobile to make a reservation. At 8 a.m., a message with a questionnaire is sent through KakaoTalk, and visitors can write and send whether they have been overseas for the last two weeks, including their family, the country they visited, the number of visitors, etc. If there is no history of visiting overseas within the last 14 days, a pass will be successfully issued. When you show a mobile pass at the entrance of the hospital, you can use the hospital quickly after checking fever and respiratory symptoms. If you visited overseas within 14 days, you would be verified by the call center before visiting the hospital. Meanwhile, Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital has been implementing thorough access control to prevent COVID-19 infection since last month and operating a screening clinic for infection control in the community. The entrance is restricted to two places, and thermal imaging cameras are installed to check for fever and respiratory symptoms. Moreover, for the recovery of inpatients, visits are entirely restricted.
PANAGENE Acquired Molecular Diagnostic Medical Device Approval in Kazakhstan
Panagene Inc. (CEO Sung-Ki Kim), a Korean company that specializes in gene diagnosis based on PNA (Peptide Nucleic Acid; an artificial nucleotide), announced on February 19 that it has completed medical devices registration of seven molecular diagnostic products through Arsha of Kazakhstan, a member of the CIS and the Eurasian Economic Union. The Commonwealth of Independent States, an alliance of former Soviet Union countries, formed by Russia, is now a total of ten countries, including the associate member Turkmenistan. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), modeled after the European Union (EU), has five members. The registered products include four products of PNAClamp™ line, Panagene's cancer-related mutation detection platform, and three products of PANA RealTyper™ line, a multiplex infection detection platform. A total of seven products have completed the registration first, and Panagene plans to add more products in the future. Panagene explained, "The medical device's approval in Kazakhstan is significant in that it has secured a base for Panagene's molecular diagnostic products to enter the CIS member countries as well as the Eurasia Economic Union. We are expecting increases in sales through bidding for national projects in CIS member countries such as Kazakhstan." The registered products have already been released in Korea and Europe for many years, used in clinical cases, and proven in the performance and technology. Therefore, Panagene expects to be recognized in the global market.
UBcare Changed the Brand Name of "EverHealth Direct" to "Checkup EASY"
UBcare(CEO Sang-Gyung Lee), a Korean digital healthcare solution company, changed the brand name of "Everhealth Direct", a free solution for a corporate's health screening management in Korea, to "Checkup EASY". The company changed the brand name and reorganized the website at the same time for expanding its small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) market. It has been about one year since the launch of the "Everhealth Direct" service in March last year. UBcare has reorganized its business goals for SME-oriented business expansion with the brand name change and completed the website reorganization in consideration of customer's ease of use. The reorganization of UBcare's website was focused on strengthening services and systems to raise SME health screening business to the level of large companies. Moreover, UBcare established a system that could connect companies with 150 nationwide examination centers to improve the quality of health screening and strengthen work convenience of SME employees and their families. Through this, companies can compare and select each examination center on the "Checkup EASY" website, and the relevant department managers can check the progress of employee health checkups in real-time through the manager page provided by each company. Besides, corporate employees can use a variety of convenience functions from appointment to result inquiry of the health screening through the "Checkup EASY" application.
PanGen Registers for the Vietnamese market for its Epogen, Panpotin®
Biotechnology company PanGen (CEO Jaeseung Yoon, Youngbu Kim) announced on August 13 that it had signed an exclusive supply agreement with 'Khuong Duy' in Vietnam. PanGen's Panpotin® is the first drug to treat anemia of epoetin alfa in Korea and is the second biosimilar product in the world, developed and commercialized by PanGen. Khuong Duy, the third-largest pharmaceutical company in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, has been selling vaccines, biologics, and medical devices for over 20 years. In particular, Khuong Duy and Stella STADA are producing pharmaceuticals with manufacturing facilities that meet European standard GMP. With the exclusive supply of Panpotin®, Khuong Duy will use the data registered by PanGen to carry out the registration process required for the product launch from Vietnam Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On top of that, Khuong Duy plans to import finished products from PanGen and sell them exclusively throughout Vietnam. PanGen explained that it is speeding up to enter the market quickly as Korean products are not only high quality but also reliable and friendly. In particular, since the Vietnamese government classifies biosimilar products separately and sets a higher price on medicines, PanGen's biosimilar products are competitive in the market. Indeed, as in other ASEAN countries, the Vietnamese market is steadily increasing in patients with chronic renal failure. And the anemia treatment market is expected to reach about KRW 50 billion (USD 42.3 million). With this agreement, PanGen seems to have concluded plans to sell the six largest markets in ASEAN. The deal seems to have finalized sales plans for six large countries in the ASEAN market. PanGen stated that, in the future, it will find partners and sign additional contracts in the other four countries, including Myanmar.
Hallym University Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital Introduces AI-based Alzheimer's Diagnosis Solution for the First Time in Korea
On January 29, Hallym University Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital (Director Young-goo Lee) signed a business agreement with VUNO Inc. (CEO Ya-ha Lee) for the development of AI-based medical services. And, for the first time in Korea, the hospital introduced AI-based Alzheimer's dementia diagnosis solution, VUNO Med®-DeepBrain. VUNO Med®-DeepBrain is a medical AI program that helps diagnose Alzheimer's dementia based on brain MRI images by comparing to standard data. VUNO Med®-DeepBrain takes about one minute to analyze the brain MRI image of a patient, so the results can be confirmed immediately after the MRI image is taken. Also, it provides visual graphs of MRI imaging figures and reports to medical staff to help screen the risk of Alzheimer's dementia. In addition to providing quantitative volume and statistical information of brain areas associated with dementia, VUNO Med®-DeepBrain also provides white Matter hyperintensity (WMH) analysis that can be used to diagnose vascular dementia. Therefore, it could play a key role in helping to diagnose various brain lesions, including dementia. "Our hospital is actively introducing cutting-edge AI-based technologies in the medical field in the areas of medical care, education, and research to take the lead in the fourth industrial revolution. With the introduction of this equipment, it will be possible to provide improved diagnostic medical services to patients with suspected brain lesions with improved accuracy and efficiency." Young-goo Lee, Director of Hallym University Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital, said.
IBS Researchers Developed A Brain Sensor Monitoring Epileptic Seizure Real-Time
A sensor has been developed to monitor seizures due to epilepsy in real-time. The research team led by Hyun Teak-hwan (Chair-professor at Seoul National University), at IBS (Institute of Basic Science) Center for Nanoparticle Research, has developed a highly sensitive nanosensor that simultaneously measures changes in the concentration of potassium ion (K+) in different areas of the brain. The team also has succeeded in real-time monitoring the seizure of freely moving mice. Epilepsy, one of the three major brain diseases, is caused by irregular excitability of brain neurons. Excited brain neurons relax by releasing potassium ions outward. However, if potassium ions in neurons cannot escape and they remain excited, seizures, and convulsions, which are the main symptoms of epilepsy, will occur. ▲ The structure of potassium ion nanosensor (Image by: IBS) For an accurate diagnosis of brain diseases, including epilepsy, due to neuronal activity, it is necessary to track and observe changes in potassium ion concentrations in various brain regions. Seizures and convulsions due to epilepsy are so frequent that 1% of the population has them, but until now, it has been challenging to catch changes in neurons in real-time. This is because it is difficult to selectively measure the concentration change of potassium ions among various ions (potassium, sodium (Na), calcium (Ca)) that move through the ion channel of the cell membrane when the nerve cell is excited. On top of that, the concentration change of potassium ions is relatively small compared to other ions, making it more challenging to measure. Accordingly, many studies have been conducted to develop a potassium sensor having excellent selectivity and sensitivity. However, the existing technology has a limitation in that concentration can be measured only in limited environments such as cultured neurons, brain slices, and anesthetized animals. Because movement is immediately reflected in the activity of brain neurons, a more accurate observation requires a technique that can measure activity even when freely moving. ▲ Measurement of nerve cell activity through potassium ion (Image by: IBS) Therefore, by using nanoparticles, IBS researchers have developed a high-sensitivity nanosensor that can selectively measure changes in potassium ion concentration in mice that roam freely. The researchers first put dyes that fluoresce green when combined with potassium ions into silica nanoparticles with pores of several nanometers(nm). The surface of the nanoparticles was coated with a thin membrane that had a structure similar to that of the potassium channels in the cell membrane, selectively passing only potassium. Then, the concentration of potassium ions could be measured based on the intensity of the fluorescence of the potassium ions passing through the membrane and combining with the dye. The researchers then injected the nanosensors into the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex of a moving mouse, followed by electrical stimulation to the hippocampus, causing seizures, and measuring changes in potassium ion concentration. As a result, in the case of focal seizure, the concentration has increased in the order of the hippocampus, where the stimulation started, amygdala, and cerebral cortex. On the other hand, in the case of the generalized seizure, the concentration of potassium ions in three sites increased at the same time, and the duration was also increased. ▲ Analysis result of the degree of seizure using nanoparticles (Image by: IBS) The study will contribute to understanding accurate pathogenesis of seizures, as it became possible to measure brain neuronal activity in real-time while freely moving and simultaneously monitor concentration changes in different areas of the brain. What's more, since potassium ion concentration is an indicator for monitoring the occurrence of brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease as well as epilepsy, the researchers hope the findings will help identify and diagnose the pathogenesis of many brain diseases caused by excessive excitability of various brain neurons. The findings were published in Nature Nanotechnology (IF 43.341), the world's top authority in nanotechnology, on Feb 11, 1 a.m. (KST).
POSTECH Developed Metal-Organic Frameworks Based Integrated Nanocatalyst Platform
The spread of new coronavirus infections is terrifying the world. While the rapid distribution of drugs, including antiviral drugs, is required, it is also difficult to mass-produce them in a short time due to the complicated production process. Here, POSTECH(Pohang University of Science and Technology)'s research team succeeded in developing an integrated nanocatalyst platform that can significantly simplify the manufacturing process of precision chemical products such as medicines.POSTECH's research team led by Prof. In Su Lee at the Department of Chemistry and Dr. Soumen Dutta succeeded in effectively integrating three different catalyst functions into a single MOF nanoreactor. Besides, the synergy effect among the catalytic materials placed close to the nano-level distance to realize a single-process multistage continuous chemical reaction to produce a product with excellent yield and high optical activity. A Diagram of Metal-Organic Frameworks Based Multimodal Catalytic Nanoreactors (Image by: POSTECH) The manufacture of chemicals and pharmaceuticals is carried out in a multistage process with a continuous synthesis-separation step, which requires a lot of time and money. In particular, the catalyst materials used in each synthesis step often interfere with each other's activity and selectivity, so it is a very difficult but essential task to develop a multi-catalyst material that maintains the reactivity and stability of the catalysts and to unify the process. The research team first synthesized a mesoporous MOF with nano-sized (20-40nm) pores through self-assembly of metal ions and organics and then introduced metal nanoparticle catalysts and enzyme catalysts into the nanopores to manufacture multimodal catalytic nanoreactors (MCNRs). The team confirmed that metal ions, nanoparticles, and enzymes separated and captured in the nanopores located near the MCNR can effectively perform a multi-step continuous chemical reaction without compromising the catalytic function of each other.The findings were published in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., a leading journal in chemistry and applied chemistry, as breaking news. This project was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF)'s Leader Researcher Support Project (Creative Research).
GeneMatrix Cooperates With Tianlong to Expand Global Market
On 7th, GeneMatric (CEO Kim Soo-ok), a Korean biotechnology company specialized in multiplex molecular diagnostics, announced that it signed a strategic business cooperation agreement with Tianlong (CEO Ming Li) in China to enter the global market. Tianlong is a medical device company established in 1997 and mainly produces molecular diagnostic medical devices such as real-time PCR devices and automated nucleic acid extractors. It has a China Center for Disease Control and Prevention and a network of hundreds of medical institutions. It also has its inspection center (ICL). GeneMatrix has various technological competitiveness, including bioinformatics and software development, as well as C-TagTM technology, which is the source of simultaneous multi-analysis technology. The company's flagship product pipelines are "NeoPlex," including ▲ sexual infection testing product ▲ respiratory infection testing product and ▲ digestive infection testing product, and "OmniPlex," including cervical cancer testing product and currently under continuous development. GeneMatrix continues to expand its product lineup and strengthen its competitiveness in the global market. With this agreement, GeneMatrix and Tianlong will conduct joint R&D to enter the global market of molecular diagnostic medical devices and will cooperate comprehensively in business development areas such as production and marketing. GeneMatrix stated, "This business cooperation will be a good example that creates a new market value of our products by combining our molecular diagnostic technology with Tianlong's medical device automation technology and market network. We expect that the cooperation will speed up the entry into the global market of the rapidly growing molecular diagnostics market due to various factors such as the aging population and the emergence of new viruses."
IBS Revealed Lymph Node Cell Action That Controls Immune Response
The mechanism of the immune response of lymph node cells has been revealed.The Institute for Basic Science (IBS, President Noh Do Young) Center for Vascular Research led by Koh Gou Young (a distinguished professor at KAIST) established that the Hippo signaling pathway, which determines the size of the body organs, is essential for the immune responses of a lymph node. It is expected to help understand the immune response of a lymph node to pathogens such as SARS, MERS, and new coronaviruses.A lymph node is a kidney-shaped immune organ, 1-20 mm in diameter, distributed throughout the body, mainly in the armpits, groin, neck, chest, and stomach. When pathogens in and out of the body enter the lymph nodes, immune cells in the lymph nodes are activated and mount an immune response. For the immune response to function appropriately, it is crucial to properly operate the signaling pathway in the various cells that make up the lymph nodes.Conventionally, the Hippo signaling pathway is known to inhibit the growth of body organs and determine their size by promoting cell division inhibition and death. The study found that the Hippo signaling pathway is essential for regulating lymph node immune responses. The Hippo signaling pathway is a fibroblastic reticular cell that forms the lymph node's internal structure. It is activated early in the fibroblastic reticular cell differentiation and deactivated later to mount the immune response appropriately. ▲ Relationship between the degree of hippo signaling pathway activation and fibroblastic reticular cells differentiation in lymph node (Image by: IBS) After preparing 20 kinds of mouse models with modified Yap/Taz protein genes involved in the Hippo signaling pathway, the research team examined how the immune response was regulated according to the degree of Hippo signaling pathway activation and fibroblastic reticular cells differentiation in a lymph node.First, when the Hippo signaling pathway was inactivated at the beginning of fibroblastic reticular cell differentiation, abnormal immune response, and weight loss were observed. It means that cell differentiation hadn't been done correctly. Fibroblastic reticular cells secrete cytokines during pathogen infection to activate immune cells and induce immune responses. If fibroblastic reticular cells become fat cells over cell differentiation, cytokines are not secreted, and immune responses can't occur. In addition, when fibroblastic reticular cells, which form the internal structure of lymph nodes, decrease, it is difficult to provide enough space for immune responses to pathogens.After the differentiation of fibroblastic reticular cells, it was observed that the Hippo signaling pathway was activated, the lymph nodes became fibrosis, and the immune function was paralyzed at the end. When fibroblastic reticular cells secrete a substance that promotes fibrosis, the lymph nodes become hardens and difficult to perform the immune function. Given that lymph node fibrosis occurs when the Yap/Taz protein is activated in the Hippo signaling pathway, Yap/Taz inhibitors are expected to be used for the treatment of fibrosis in organs.The findings were published online in the international journal Nature Communications (IF 11.878) at 7:00 pm KST.