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KAIST presents a fundamental technology to remove metastatic traits from lung cancer cells
KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on January 30th that a research team led by Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering succeeded in using systems biology research to change the properties of carcinogenic cells in the lungs and eliminate both drug resistance and their ability to proliferate out to other areas of the body. As the incidences of cancer increase within aging populations, cancer has become the most lethal disease threatening healthy life. Fatality rates are especially high when early detection does not happen in time and metastasis has occurred in various organs. In order to resolve this problem, a series of attempts were made to remove or lower the ability of cancer cells to spread, but they resulted in cancer cells in the intermediate state becoming more unstable and even more malignant, which created serious treatment challenges. Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho's research team simulated various cancer cell states in the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) of lung cancer cells, between epithelial cells without metastatic ability and mesenchymal cells with metastatic ability. A mathematical model of molecular network was established, and key regulators that could reverse the state of invasive and drug resistant mesenchymal cells back to the epithelial state were discovered through computer simulation analysis and molecular cell experiments. In particular, this process succeeded in properly reverting the mesenchymal lung cancer cells to a state where they were sensitive to chemotherapy treatment while avoiding the unstable EMT hybrid cell state in the middle process, which had remained a difficult problem. The results of this research, in which KAIST Ph.D. student Namhee Kim, Dr. Chae Young Hwang, Researcher Taeyoung Kim, and Ph.D. student Hyunjin Kim participated, were published as an online paper in the international journal “Cancer Research” published by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) on January 30th. (Paper title: A cell fate reprogramming strategy reverses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of lung cancer cells while avoiding hybrid states) Cells in an EMT hybrid state, which are caused by incomplete transitions during the EMT process in cancer cells, have the characteristics of both epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells, and are known to have high drug resistance and metastatic potential by acquiring high stem cell capacity. In particular, EMT is further enhanced through factors such as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) secreted from the tumor microenvironment (TME) and, as a result, various cell states with high plasticity appear. Due to the complexity of EMT, it has been very difficult to completely reverse the transitional process of the mesenchymal cancer cells to an epithelial cell state in which metastatic ability and drug resistance are eliminated while avoiding the EMT hybrid cell state with high metastatic ability and drug resistance. Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho's research team established a mathematical model of the gene regulation network that governs the complex process of EMT, and then applied large-scale computer simulation analysis and complex system network control technology to identify and verify 'p53', 'SMAD4', and 'ERK1' and 'ERK 2' (collectively ERKs) through molecular cell experiments as the three key molecular targets that can transform lung cancer cells in the mesenchymal cell state, reversed back to an epithelial cell state that no longer demonstrates the ability to metastasize, while avoiding the EMT hybrid cell state. In particular, by analyzing the molecular regulatory mechanism of the complex EMT process at the system level, the key pathways were identified that were linked to the positive feedback that plays an important role in completely returning cancer cells to an epithelial cell state in which metastatic ability and drug resistance are removed. This discovery is significant in that it proved that mesenchymal cells can be reverted to the state of epithelial cells under conditions where TGF-β stimulation are present, like they are in the actual environment where cancer tissue forms in the human body. Abnormal EMT in cancer cells leads to various malignant traits such as the migration and invasion of cancer cells, changes in responsiveness to chemotherapy treatment, enhanced stem cell function, and the dissemination of cancer. In particular, the acquisition of the metastatic ability of cancer cells is a key determinant factor for the prognosis of cancer patients. The EMT reversal technology in lung cancer cells developed in this research is a new anti-cancer treatment strategy that reprograms cancer cells to eliminate their high plasticity and metastatic potential and increase their responsiveness to chemotherapy. Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho said, "By succeeding in reversing the state of lung cancer cells that acquired high metastatic traits and resistance to drugs and reverting them to a treatable epithelial cell state with renewed sensitivity to chemotherapy, the research findings propose a new strategy for treatments that can improve the prognosis of cancer patients.” Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho's research team was the first to present the principle of reversal treatment to revert cancer cells to normal cells, following through with the announcement of the results of their study that reverted colon cancer cells to normal colon cells in January of 2020, and also presenting successful re-programming research where the most malignant basal type breast cancer cells turned into less-malignant luminal type breast cancer cells that were treatable with hormonal therapies in January of 2022. This latest research result is the third in the development of reversal technology where lung cancer cells that had acquired metastatic traits returned to a state in which their metastatic ability was removed and drug sensitivity was enhanced. This research was carried out with support from the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Research Foundation of Korea's Basic Research in Science & Engineering Program for Mid-Career Researchers. < Figure 1. Construction of the mathematical model of the regulatory network to represent the EMT phenotype based on the interaction between various molecules related to EMT. (A) Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho's research team investigated numerous literatures and databases related to complex EMT, and based on comparative analysis of cell line data showing epithelial and mesenchymal cell conditions, they extracted key signaling pathways related to EMT and built a mathematical model of regulatory network (B) By comparing the results of computer simulation analysis and the molecular cell experiments, it was verified how well the constructed mathematical model simulated the actual cellular phenomena. > < Figure 2. Understanding of various EMT phenotypes through large-scale computer simulation analysis and complex system network control technology. (A) Through computer simulation analysis and experiments, Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho's research team found that complete control of EMT is impossible with single-molecule control alone. In particular, through comparison of the relative stability of attractors, it was revealed that the cell state exhibiting EMT hybrid characteristics has unstable properties. (B), (C) Based on these results, Prof. Cho’s team identified two feedbacks (positive feedback consisting of Snail-miR-34 and ZEB1-miR-200) that play an important role in avoiding the EMT hybrid state that appeared in the TGF-β-ON state. It was found through computer simulation analysis that the two feedbacks restore relatively high stability when the excavated p53 and SMAD4 are regulated. In addition, molecular cell experiments demonstrated that the expression levels of E-cad and ZEB1, which are representative phenotypic markers of EMT, changed similarly to the expression profile in the epithelial cell state, despite the TGF-β-ON state. > < Figure 3. Complex molecular network analysis and discovery of reprogramming molecular targets for intact elimination of EMT hybrid features. (A) Controlling the expression of p53 and SMAD4 in lung cancer cell lines was expected to overcome drug resistance, but contrary to expectations, chemotherapy responsiveness was not restored. (B) Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho's research team additionally analyzed computer simulations, genome data, and experimental results and found that high expression levels of TWIST1 and EPCAM were related to drug resistance. (C) Prof. Cho’s team identified three key molecular targets: p53, SMAD4 and ERK1 & ERK2. (D), (E) Furthermore, they identified a key pathway that plays an important role in completely reversing into epithelial cells while avoiding EMT hybrid characteristics, and confirmed through network analysis and attractor analysis that high stability of the key pathway was restored when the proposed molecular target was controlled. > < Figure 4. Verification through experiments with lung cancer cell lines. When p53 was activated and SMAD4 and ERK1/2 were inhibited in lung cancer cell lines, (A), (B) E-cad protein expression increased and ZEB1 protein expression decreased, and (C) mesenchymal cell status including TWIST1 and EPCAM and gene expression of markers related to stem cell potential characteristics were completely inhibited. In addition, (D) it was confirmed that resistance to chemotherapy treatment was also overcome as the cell state was reversed by the regulated target. > < Figure 5. A schematic representation of the research results. Prof. Cho’s research team identified key molecular regulatory pathways to avoid high plasticity formed by abnormal EMT of cancer cells and reverse it to an epithelial cell state through systems biology research. From this analysis, a reprogramming molecular target that can reverse the state of mesenchymal cells with acquired invasiveness and drug resistance to the state of epithelial cells with restored drug responsiveness was discovered. For lung cancer cells, when a drug that enhances the expression of p53, one of the molecular targets discovered, and inhibits the expression of SMAD4 and ERK1 & ERK2 is administered, the molecular network of genes in the state of mesenchymal cells is modified, eventually eliminating metastatic ability and it is reprogrammed to turn into epithelial cells without the resistance to chemotherapy treatments. >
Afternoon chemotherapy proved to deliver more desirable results for female lymphoma patients
Chemotherapy is a commonly used regimen for cancer treatment, but it is also a double-edged sword. While the drugs are highly effective at killing cancer cells, they are also notorious for killing healthy cells in the body. As such, minimizing the drug’s damage to the patient’s body is necessary for improving the prognosis of chemotherapy. Recently, “chrono-chemotherapy” have been gaining interest in the research community. As the name suggests, the aim is timing the delivery of the drugs when the body is least vulnerable to their harmful effects and while the cancer cells are at their most vulnerable. < Figure 1. Chrono-chemotherapy considering circadian rhythm > Chrono-chemotherapy exploits the fact that human physiological processes, including cell proliferation and differentiation, are regulated by an endogenous timer called the circadian clock. However, this has not been widely exploited in real-world clinical settings because, as of now, there is no systematic method for finding the optimal chemotherapy delivery time. This problem was tackled by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from South Korea. They were led by principal investigators Jae Kyoung Kim (a mathematician from the Biomedical Mathematics Group, Institute for Basic Science) and Youngil Koh (an oncologist at Seoul National University Hospital). The researchers studied a group of patients suffering from diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Terminology * Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL): Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer caused by the malignant transformation of lymphoid tissue cells. Lymphoma is divided into Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (malignant lymphoma), and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma accounts for about 30 to 40% of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The research team noticed that DLBCL patients at Seoul National University Hospital received chemotherapy on two different schedules, with some patients receiving morning treatment (8:30 a.m.) and others taking the drugs in the afternoon (2:30 p.m.). All patients received the same cancer treatment (R-CHOP), which is a combination of targeted therapy and chemotherapy, four to six times in the morning or afternoon at intervals of about three weeks. They analyzed 210 patients to investigate whether there was any difference between morning and afternoon treatments. It was found that female patients who received the afternoon treatment had a 12.5 times reduced mortality rate (25% to 2%), while the cancer recurrence after 60 months decreased by 2.8 times (37% to 13%). In addition, chemotherapy side effects such as neutropenia were more common in female patients who received the morning treatment. Surprisingly, there was no differences found in treatment efficiency depending on the treatment schedule in the cases of male patients. To understand the cause of the gender differences, the research team analyzed upto 14,000 blood samples from the Seoul National University Hospital Health Examination Center. It was found that in females, white blood cell counts tended to decrease in the morning and increase in the afternoon. This indicates that the bone marrow proliferation rate was higher in the morning than in the afternoon because there is a upto 12 hour delay between bone marrow proliferation and blood cell production. This means that if a female patient receives chemotherapy in the morning when bone marrow is actively producing blood cells, the possibility of adverse side effects becomes greater. These results are consistent with the findings from recent randomized clinical trials that showed female colorectal cancer patients treated with irinotecan in the morning suffered from higher drug toxicities. One confounding variable was the drug dose. Since the morning female patients suffered from greater adverse side effects, oftentimes the dose had to be reduced for these patients. On average, the drug dose was reduced by upto 10% compared to the dose intensity given to female patients receiving the afternoon treatment. Unlike the female patients, it was found that male patients did not show a significant difference in white blood cell count and bone marrow cell proliferation activity throughout the day, which explains why the timing of the treatment had no impact. Professor Youngil Koh said, “We plan to verify the conclusions of this study again with a large-scale follow-up study that completely controls for the confounding variables, and to confirm whether chrono-chemotherapy has similar effects on other cancers.” CI Jae Kyoung Kim said, “Because the time of the internal circadian clock can vary greatly depending on the individual's sleep-wake patterns, we are currently developing a technology to estimate a patient’s circadian clock from their sleep pattern. We hope that this can be used to develop an individualized anti-cancer chronotherapy schedule.” < Figure 2. Chemotherapy in the afternoon can improve treatment outcomes. > The daily fluctuation of proliferative activity of bone marrow is larger in females than in males, and it becomes higher in the morning (left). Thus, chemotherapy in the morning strongly inhibits proliferative activity in female lymphoma patients, resulting in a higher incidence of adverse events such as neutropenia and infections. This forced the clinicians to reduce the dose intensity (center). Consequently, female patients undergoing the morning treatment showed a lower survival probability than those undergoing the afternoon treatment (right). Specifically, only ~13% of female patients treated in the afternoon had a worse outcome and ~2% of them died while ~37% of female patients treated in the morning had a worse outcome and ~25% of them died. Male patients did not show any difference in treatment outcomes depending on the chemotherapy delivery time.
KAIST’s Robo-Dog “RaiBo” runs through the sandy beach
KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 25th that a research team led by Professor Jemin Hwangbo of the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a quadrupedal robot control technology that can walk robustly with agility even in deformable terrain such as sandy beach. < Photo. RAI Lab Team with Professor Hwangbo in the middle of the back row. > Professor Hwangbo's research team developed a technology to model the force received by a walking robot on the ground made of granular materials such as sand and simulate it via a quadrupedal robot. Also, the team worked on an artificial neural network structure which is suitable in making real-time decisions needed in adapting to various types of ground without prior information while walking at the same time and applied it on to reinforcement learning. The trained neural network controller is expected to expand the scope of application of quadrupedal walking robots by proving its robustness in changing terrain, such as the ability to move in high-speed even on a sandy beach and walk and turn on soft grounds like an air mattress without losing balance. This research, with Ph.D. Student Soo-Young Choi of KAIST Department of Mechanical Engineering as the first author, was published in January in the “Science Robotics”. (Paper title: Learning quadrupedal locomotion on deformable terrain). Reinforcement learning is an AI learning method used to create a machine that collects data on the results of various actions in an arbitrary situation and utilizes that set of data to perform a task. Because the amount of data required for reinforcement learning is so vast, a method of collecting data through simulations that approximates physical phenomena in the real environment is widely used. In particular, learning-based controllers in the field of walking robots have been applied to real environments after learning through data collected in simulations to successfully perform walking controls in various terrains. However, since the performance of the learning-based controller rapidly decreases when the actual environment has any discrepancy from the learned simulation environment, it is important to implement an environment similar to the real one in the data collection stage. Therefore, in order to create a learning-based controller that can maintain balance in a deforming terrain, the simulator must provide a similar contact experience. The research team defined a contact model that predicted the force generated upon contact from the motion dynamics of a walking body based on a ground reaction force model that considered the additional mass effect of granular media defined in previous studies. Furthermore, by calculating the force generated from one or several contacts at each time step, the deforming terrain was efficiently simulated. The research team also introduced an artificial neural network structure that implicitly predicts ground characteristics by using a recurrent neural network that analyzes time-series data from the robot's sensors. The learned controller was mounted on the robot 'RaiBo', which was built hands-on by the research team to show high-speed walking of up to 3.03 m/s on a sandy beach where the robot's feet were completely submerged in the sand. Even when applied to harder grounds, such as grassy fields, and a running track, it was able to run stably by adapting to the characteristics of the ground without any additional programming or revision to the controlling algorithm. In addition, it rotated with stability at 1.54 rad/s (approximately 90° per second) on an air mattress and demonstrated its quick adaptability even in the situation in which the terrain suddenly turned soft. The research team demonstrated the importance of providing a suitable contact experience during the learning process by comparison with a controller that assumed the ground to be rigid, and proved that the proposed recurrent neural network modifies the controller's walking method according to the ground properties. The simulation and learning methodology developed by the research team is expected to contribute to robots performing practical tasks as it expands the range of terrains that various walking robots can operate on. The first author, Suyoung Choi, said, “It has been shown that providing a learning-based controller with a close contact experience with real deforming ground is essential for application to deforming terrain.” He went on to add that “The proposed controller can be used without prior information on the terrain, so it can be applied to various robot walking studies.” This research was carried out with the support of the Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center of Samsung Electronics. < Figure 1. Adaptability of the proposed controller to various ground environments. The controller learned from a wide range of randomized granular media simulations showed adaptability to various natural and artificial terrains, and demonstrated high-speed walking ability and energy efficiency. > < Figure 2. Contact model definition for simulation of granular substrates. The research team used a model that considered the additional mass effect for the vertical force and a Coulomb friction model for the horizontal direction while approximating the contact with the granular medium as occurring at a point. Furthermore, a model that simulates the ground resistance that can occur on the side of the foot was introduced and used for simulation. >
Overview of the 30-year history of metabolic engineering
< Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST > A research team comprised of Gi Bae Kim, Dr. So Young Choi, Dr. In Jin Cho, Da-Hee Ahn, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST reported the 30-year history of metabolic engineering, highlighting examples of recent progress in the field and contributions to sustainability and health. Their paper “Metabolic engineering for sustainability and health” was published online in the 40th anniversary special issue of Trends in Biotechnology on January 10, 2023. Metabolic engineering, a discipline of engineering that modifies cell phenotypes through molecular and genetic-level manipulations to improve cellular activities, has been studied since the early 1990s, and has progressed significantly over the past 30 years. In particular, metabolic engineering has enabled the engineering of microorganisms for the development of microbial cell factories capable of efficiently producing chemicals and materials as well as degrading recalcitrant contaminants. This review article revisited how metabolic engineering has advanced over the past 30 years, from the advent of genetic engineering techniques such as recombinant DNA technologies to recent breakthroughs in systems metabolic engineering and data science aided by artificial intelligence. The research team highlighted momentous events and achievements in metabolic engineering, providing both trends and future directions in the field. Metabolic engineering’s contributions to bio-based sustainable chemicals and clean energy, health, and bioremediation were also reviewed. Finally, the research team shared their perspectives on the future challenges impacting metabolic engineering than must be overcome in order to achieve advancements in sustainability and health. Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee said, “Replacing fossil resource-based chemical processes with bio-based sustainable processes for the production of chemicals, fuels, and materials using metabolic engineering has become our essential task for the future. By looking back on the 30+ years of metabolic engineering, we aimed to highlight the contributions of metabolic engineering to achieve sustainability and good health.” He added, “Metabolic engineering will play an increasingly important role as a key solution to the climate crisis, environmental pollution, food and energy shortages, and health problems in aging societies.” < Figure: Metabolic Engineering Timeline >
Scientists re-writes FDA-recommended equation to improve estimation of drug-drug interaction
Drugs absorbed into the body are metabolized and thus removed by enzymes from several organs like the liver. How fast a drug is cleared out of the system can be affected by other drugs that are taken together because added substance can increase the amount of enzyme secretion in the body. This dramatically decreases the concentration of a drug, reducing its efficacy, often leading to the failure of having any effect at all. Therefore, accurately predicting the clearance rate in the presence of drug-drug interaction* is critical in the process of drug prescription and development of a new drug in order to ensure its efficacy and/or to avoid unwanted side-effects. *Drug-drug interaction: In terms of metabolism, drug-drug interaction is a phenomenon in which one drug changes the metabolism of another drug to promote or inhibit its excretion from the body when two or more drugs are taken together. As a result, it increases the toxicity of medicines or causes loss of efficacy. Since it is practically impossible to evaluate all interactions between new drug candidates and all marketed drugs during the development process, the FDA recommends indirect evaluation of drug interactions using a formula suggested in their guidance, first published in 1997, revised in January of 2020, in order to evaluate drug interactions and minimize side effects of having to use more than one type of drugs at once. The formula relies on the 110-year-old Michaelis-Menten (MM) model, which has a fundamental limit of making a very broad and groundless assumption on the part of the presence of the enzymes that metabolizes the drug. While MM equation has been one of the most widely known equations in biochemistry used in more than 220,000 published papers, the MM equation is accurate only when the concentration of the enzyme that metabolizes the drug is almost non-existent, causing the accuracy of the equation highly unsatisfactory – only 38 percent of the predictions had less than two-fold errors. “To make up for the gap, researcher resorted to plugging in scientifically unjustified constants into the equation,” Professor Jung-woo Chae of Chungnam National University College of Pharmacy said. “This is comparable to having to have the epicyclic orbits introduced to explain the motion of the planets back in the days in order to explain the now-defunct Ptolemaic theory, because it was 'THE' theory back then.” < (From left) Ph.D. student Yun Min Song (KAIST, co-first authors), Professor Sang Kyum Kim (Chungnam National University, co-corresponding author), Jae Kyoung Kim, CI (KAIST, co-corresponding author), Professor Jung-woo Chae (Chungnam National University, co-corresponding author), Ph.D. students Quyen Thi Tran and Ngoc-Anh Thi Vu (Chungnam National University, co-first authors) > A joint research team composed of mathematicians from the Biomedical Mathematics Group within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and pharmacological scientists from the Chungnam National University reported that they identified the major causes of the FDA-recommended equation’s inaccuracies and presented a solution. When estimating the gut bioavailability (Fg), which is the key parameter of the equation, the fraction absorbed from the gut lumen (Fa) is usually assumed to be 1. However, many experiments have shown that Fa is less than 1, obviously since it can’t be expected that all of the orally taken drugs to be completely absorbed by the intestines. To solve this problem, the research team used an “estimated Fa” value based on factors such as the drug’s transit time, intestine radius, and permeability values and used it to re-calculate Fg. Also, taking a different approach from the MM equation, the team used an alternative model they derived in a previous study back in 2020, which can more accurately predict the drug metabolism rate regardless of the enzyme concentration. Combining these changes, the modified equation with re-calculated Fg had a dramatically increased accuracy of the resulting estimate. The existing FDA formula predicted drug interactions within a 2-fold margin of error at the rate of 38%, whereas the accuracy rate of the revised formula reached 80%. “Such drastic improvement in drug-drug interaction prediction accuracy is expected to make great contribution to increasing the success rate of new drug development and drug efficacy in clinical trials. As the results of this study were published in one of the top clinical pharmacology journal, it is expected that the FDA guidance will be revised according to the results of this study.” said Professor Sang Kyum Kim from Chungnam National University College of Pharmacy. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of collaborative research between research groups in vastly different disciplines, in a field that is as dynamic as drug interactions. “Thanks to the collaborative research between mathematics and pharmacy, we were able to recify the formula that we have accepted to be the right answer for so long to finally grasp on the leads toward healthier life for mankind.,” said Professor Jae Kyung Kim. He continued, “I hope seeing a ‘K-formula’ entered into the US FDA guidance one day.” The results of this study were published in the online edition of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (IF 7.051), an authoritative journal in the field of clinical pharmacology, on December 15, 2022 (Korean time). Thesis Title: Beyond the Michaelis-Menten: Accurate Prediction of Drug Interactions through Cytochrome P450 3A4 Induction (doi: 10.1002/cpt.2824) < Figure 1. The formula proposed by the FDA guidance for predicting drug-drug interactions (top) and the formula newly derived by the researchers (bottom). AUCR (the ratio of substrate area under the plasma concentration-time curve) represents the rate of change in drug concentration due to drug interactions. The research team more than doubled the accuracy of drug interaction prediction compared to the existing formula. > < Figure 2. Existing FDA formulas tend to underestimate the extent of drug-drug interactions (gray dots) than the actual measured values. On the other hand, the newly derived equation (red dot) has a prediction rate that is within the error range of 2 times (0.5 to 2 times) of the measured value, and is more than twice as high as the existing equation. The solid line in the figure represents the predicted value that matches the measured value. The dotted line represents the predicted value with an error of 0.5 to 2 times. > For further information or to request media assistance, please contact Jae Kyoung Kim at Biomedical Mathematics Group, Institute for Basic Science (IBS) (firstname.lastname@example.org) or William I. Suh at the IBS Communications Team (email@example.com). - About the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) IBS was founded in 2011 by the government of the Republic of Korea with the sole purpose of driving forward the development of basic science in South Korea. IBS has 4 research institutes and 33 research centers as of January 2023. There are eleven physics, three mathematics, five chemistry, nine life science, two earth science, and three interdisciplinary research centers.
A Quick but Clingy Creepy-Crawler that will MARVEL You
Engineered by KAIST Mechanics, a quadrupedal robot climbs steel walls and crawls across metal ceilings at the fastest speed that the world has ever seen. < Photo 1. (From left) KAIST ME Prof. Hae-Won Park, Ph.D. Student Yong Um, Ph.D. Student Seungwoo Hong > - Professor Hae-Won Park's team at the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a quadrupedal robot that can move at a high speed on ferrous walls and ceilings. - It is expected to make a wide variety of contributions as it is to be used to conduct inspections and repairs of large steel structures such as ships, bridges, and transmission towers, offering an alternative to dangerous or risky activities required in hazardous environments while maintaining productivity and efficiency through automation and unmanning of such operations. - The study was published as the cover paper of the December issue of Science Robotics. KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 26th that a research team led by Professor Hae-Won Park of the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a quadrupedal walking robot that can move at high speed on steel walls and ceilings named M.A.R.V.E.L. - rightly so as it is a Magnetically Adhesive Robot for Versatile and Expeditious Locomotion as described in their paper, “Agile and Versatile Climbing on Ferromagnetic Surfaces with a Quadrupedal Robot.” (DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.add1017) To make this happen, Professor Park's research team developed a foot pad that can quickly turn the magnetic adhesive force on and off while retaining high adhesive force even on an uneven surface through the use of the Electro-Permanent Magnet (EPM), a device that can magnetize and demagnetize an electromagnet with little power, and the Magneto-Rheological Elastomer (MRE), an elastic material made by mixing a magnetic response factor, such as iron powder, with an elastic material, such as rubber, which they mounted on a small quadrupedal robot they made in-house, at their own laboratory. These walking robots are expected to be put into a wide variety of usage, including being programmed to perform inspections, repairs, and maintenance tasks on large structures made of steel, such as ships, bridges, transmission towers, large storage areas, and construction sites. This study, in which Seungwoo Hong and Yong Um of the Department of Mechanical Engineering participated as co-first authors, was published as the cover paper in the December issue of Science Robotics. < Image on the Cover of 2022 December issue of Science Robotics > Existing wall-climbing robots use wheels or endless tracks, so their mobility is limited on surfaces with steps or irregularities. On the other hand, walking robots for climbing can expect improved mobility in obstacle terrain, but have disadvantages in that they have significantly slower moving speeds or cannot perform various movements. In order to enable fast movement of the walking robot, the sole of the foot must have strong adhesion force and be able to control the adhesion to quickly switch from sticking to the surface or to be off of it. In addition, it is necessary to maintain the adhesion force even on a rough or uneven surface. To solve this problem, the research team used the EPM and MRE for the first time in designing the soles of walking robots. An EPM is a magnet that can turn on and off the electromagnetic force with a short current pulse. Unlike general electromagnets, it has the advantage that it does not require energy to maintain the magnetic force. The research team proposed a new EPM with a rectangular structure arrangement, enabling faster switching while significantly lowering the voltage required for switching compared to existing electromagnets. In addition, the research team was able to increase the frictional force without significantly reducing the magnetic force of the sole by covering the sole with an MRE. The proposed sole weighs only 169 g, but provides a vertical gripping force of about *535 Newtons (N) and a frictional force of 445 N, which is sufficient gripping force for a quadrupedal robot weighing 8 kg. * 535 N converted to kg is 54.5 kg, and 445 N is 45.4 kg. In other words, even if an external force of up to 54.5 kg in the vertical direction and up to 45.4 kg in the horizontal direction is applied (or even if a corresponding weight is hung), the sole of the foot does not come off the steel plate. MARVEL climbed up a vertical wall at high speed at a speed of 70 cm per second, and was able to walk while hanging upside down from the ceiling at a maximum speed of 50 cm per second. This is the world's fastest speed for a walking climbing robot. In addition, the research team demonstrated that the robot can climb at a speed of up to 35 cm even on a surface that is painted, dirty with dust and the rust-tainted surfaces of water tanks, proving the robot's performance in a real environment. It was experimentally demonstrated that the robot not only exhibited high speed, but also can switch from floor to wall and from wall to ceiling, and overcome 5-cm high obstacles protruding from walls without difficulty. The new climbing quadrupedal robot is expected to be widely used for inspection, repair, and maintenance of large steel structures such as ships, bridges, transmission towers, oil pipelines, large storage areas, and construction sites. As the works required in these places involves risks such as falls, suffocation and other accidents that may result in serious injuries or casualties, the need for automation is of utmost urgency. One of the first co-authors of the paper, a Ph.D. student, Yong Um of KAIST’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said, "By the use of the magnetic soles made up of the EPM and MRE and the non-linear model predictive controller suitable for climbing, the robot can speedily move through a variety of ferromagnetic surfaces including walls and ceilings, not just level grounds. We believe this would become a cornerstone that will expand the mobility and the places of pedal-mobile robots can venture into." He added, “These robots can be put into good use in executing dangerous and difficult tasks on steel structures in places like the shipbuilding yards.” This research was carried out with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea's Basic Research in Science & Engineering Program for Mid-Career Researchers and Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co., Ltd.. < Figure 1. The quadrupedal robot (MARVEL) walking over various ferrous surfaces. (A) vertical wall (B) ceiling. (C) over obstacles on a vertical wall (D) making floor-to-wall and wall-to-ceiling transitions (E) moving over a storage tank (F) walking on a wall with a 2-kg weight and over a ceiling with a 3-kg load. > < Figure 2. Description of the magnetic foot (A) Components of the magnet sole: ankle, Square Eletro-Permanent Magnet(S-EPM), MRE footpad. (B) Components of the S-EPM and MRE footpad. (C) Working principle of the S-EPM. When the magnetization direction is aligned as shown in the left figure, magnetic flux comes out of the keeper and circulates through the steel plate, generating holding force (ON state). Conversely, if the magnetization direction is aligned as shown in the figure on the right, the magnetic flux circulates inside the S-EPM and the holding force disappears (OFF state). > Video Introduction: Agile and versatile climbing on ferromagnetic surfaces with a quadrupedal robot - YouTube
KAIST Offers Hope to Musicians with Dystonia
< Photo 1. Conductor and Pianist João Carlos Martins before the Recital at the Carnegie Hall preparing with his bionic gloves > KAIST’s neuroscientist and professor, Dr. Daesoo Kim attended the “Conference for Musicians with Dystonia” supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Carnegie Hall concert of legendary pianist João Carlos Martins, who is also a dystonia patient, to announce his team’s recent advancements toward finding a cure for dystonia. On November 19, 2022, a “miracle concert” was held in Carnegie Hall. João Carlos Martins was a renowned world-class pianist in the 70s and 80s, but he had to put an end to his musical career due to focal dystonia in his fingers. But in 2020, he began using a bionic glove developed by industrial designer Ubiratã Bizarro Costa and after years of hard work he was back in Carnegie Hall as an 82-year-old man. During the concert, he conducted the NOVUS NY orchestra in a performance of Bach, and later even played the piano himself. In particular, between his performances, he gave shout-outs to scientists studying dystonia including KAIST Professor Daesoo Kim, asking them to continue working towards curing rare diseases for musicians. < Photo 2. Professor Daesoo Kim with Conductor and Pianist João Carlos Martins > Musician’s dystonia affects 1-3% of musicians around the world and musicians make up approximately 5% of the total number of dystonia patients. Musicians who are no longer able to practice music due to the disease often experience stress and depression, which may even lead to suicide in extreme cases. Musicians are known to be particularly prone to such diseases due to excessive practice regimens, perfectionism, and even genetics. Currently, botulinum toxin (Botox) is used to suppress abnormal muscles, but muscle function suppression ultimately means that the musician is no longer able to play the instrument. João Carlos Martins himself underwent several Botox procedures and three brain surgeries, but saw no therapeutic results. This is why a new treatment was necessary. Professor Daesoo Kim’s research team at KAIST took note of the fact that abnormal muscle tension is caused by excessive stress, and developed NT-1, a treatment that blocks the development of the symptoms of dystonia from the brain, allowing patients to use their muscles as they normally would. The research team published their findings in Science Advances in 2021, and João Carlos Martins invited Professor Daesoo Kim to the UN conference and his concert after reading this paper. < Photo 3. Professor Daesoo Kim (3rd from the left) photographed with other guests at the recital including Dr. Dévora Kestel, the Director of the Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO, sharing the center with Conductor and Pianist João Carlos Martins > During the UN conference held the day prior to the Carnegie Hall concert, Dr. Dévora Kestel, Director of the Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO, said, “Although dystonia is not as well-known, it is a common disease around the world, and needs our society’s attention and the devotion of many researchers.” Professor Daesoo Kim said, “NT-1 is a drug that blocks the cause of dystonia in the brain, and will allow musicians to continue practicing music. We aim to attain clinical approval in Korea by 2024.” NT-1 is currently under development by NeuroTobe, a faculty-led start-up company at KAIST, headed by Professor Daesoo Kim as the CEO. The synthesis of the drug for clinical testing has been successfully completed, and it has shown excellent efficacy and safety through various rounds of animal testing. Unlike Botox, which takes a few days to show its therapeutic effects after receiving the procedure from a hospital, NT-1 shows its therapeutic effects within an hour after taking it. As a so-called “edible Botox”, it is expected to help treat various muscular diseases and ailments.
“3D sketch” Your Ideas and Bring Them to Life, Instantly!
Professor Seok-Hyung Bae’s research team at the Department of Industrial Design developed a novel 3D sketching system that rapidly creates animated 3D concepts through simple user interactions like sketching on a piece of paper or playing a toy. Foldable drones, transforming vehicles, and multi-legged robots from sci-fi movies are now becoming commonplace thanks to technological progress. However, designing them remains a difficult challenge even for skilled experts, because complex design decisions must be made regarding not only their form, but also the structure, poses, and motions, which are interdependent on one another. Creating a 3D concept comprising of multiple moving parts connected by different types of joints using a traditional 3D CAD tool, which is more suited for processing precise and elaborate modeling, is a painstaking and time-consuming process. This presents a major bottleneck for the workflow during the early stage of design, in which it is preferred that as many ideas are tried and discarded out as quickly as possible in order to explore a wide range of possibilities in the shortest amount of time. A research team led by Professor Bae has focused on designers’ freehand sketches drew up with a pen on a paper that serve as the starting point for virtually all design projects. This led them to develop their 3D sketching technology to generate desired 3D curves from the rough but expressive 2D strokes drawn with a digital stylus on a digital tablet. Their latest research helps designers bring their 3D sketches to life almost instantly. Using the intuitive set of multi-touch gestures the team successfully designed and implemented, designers can handle the 3D sketches they are working on with their fingers as if they are playing with toys and put them into animation in no time. < Figure 1. A novel 3D sketching system for rapidly designing articulated 3D concepts with a small set of coherent pen and multi-touch gestures. (a) Sketching: A 3D sketch curve is created by marking a pen stroke that is projected onto a sketch plane widget. (b) Segmenting: Entire or partial sketch curves are added to separate parts that serve as links in the kinematic chain. (c) Rigging: Repeatedly demonstrating the desired motion of a part leaves behind a trail, from which the system infers a joint. (d) Posing: Desired poses can be achieved through actuating joints via forward or inverse kinematics. (e) Filming: A sequence of keyframes specifying desired poses and viewpoints is connected as a smooth motion. > < Figure 2. (a) Concept drawing of an autonomous excavator. It features (b, c) four caterpillars that swivel for high maneuverability, (d) an extendable boom and a bucket connected by multiple links, and (e) a rotating platform. The concept’s designer, who had 8 years of work experience, estimated that it would take 1-2 weeks to express and communicate such a complex articulated object with existing tools. With the proposed system, it took only 2 hours and 52 minutes. > The major findings of their work were published under the title “Rapid Design of Articulated Objects” in ACM Transactions on Graphics (impact factor: 7.403), the top international journal in the field of computer graphics, and presented at ACM SIGGRAPH 2022 (h5-index: 103), the world’s largest international academic conference in the field, which was held back in August in Vancouver, Canada with Joon Hyub Lee, a Ph.D. student of the Department of Industrial Design as the first author. The ACM SIGGRAPH 2022 conference was reportedly attended by over 10,000 participants including researchers, artists, and developers from world-renowned universities; film, animation, and game studies, such as Marvel, Pixar, and Blizzard; high-tech manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin and Boston Dynamics; and metaverse platform companies, such as Meta and Roblox. < Figure 3. The findings of Professor Bae’s research team were published in ACM Transactions on Graphics, the top international academic journal in the field of computer graphics, and presented at ACM SIGGRAPH 2022, the largest international academic conference held in conjunction early August in Vancouver, Canada. The team’s live demo at the Emerging Technologies program was highly praised by numerous academics and industry officials and received an Honorable Mention. > The team was also invited to present their technical paper as a demo and a special talk at the Emerging Technologies program at ACM SIGGRAPH 2022 as one of the top-three impactful technologies. The live performance, in which Hanbit Kim, a Ph.D. student of the Department of Industrial Design at KAIST and a co-author, sketched and animated a sophisticated animal-shaped robot from scratch in a matter of a few minutes, wowed the audience and won the Honorable Mention Award from the jury. Edwin Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar and a keynote speaker at the SIGGRAPH conference, praised the team’s research on 3D sketching as “really excellent work” and “a kind of tool that would be useful to Pixar's creative model designers.” This technology, which became virally popular in Japan after featuring in an online IT media outlet and attracting more than 600K views, received a special award from the Digital Content Association of Japan (DCAJ) and was invited and exhibited for three days at Tokyo in November, as a part of Inter BEE 2022, the largest broadcasting and media expo in Japan. “The more we come to understand how designers think and work, the more effective design tools can be built around that understanding,” said Professor Bae, explaining that “the key is to integrate different algorithms into a harmonious system as intuitive interactions.” He added that “this work wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the convergent research environment cultivated by the Department of Industrial Design at KAIST, in which all students see themselves not only as aspiring creative designers, but also as practical engineers.” By enabling designers to produce highly expressive animated 3D concepts far more quickly and easily in comparison to using existing methods, this new tool is expected to revolutionize design practices and processes in the content creation, manufacturing, and metaverse-related industries. This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT, and the National Research Foundation of Korea. More info: https://sketch.kaist.ac.kr/publications/2022_siggraph_rapid_design Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsBl0QvSDqI < Figure 4. From left to right: Ph.D. students Hanbit Kim, and Joon Hyub Lee and Professor Bae of the Department of Industrial Design, KAIST >
KAIST Team Develops Surface-Lighting MicroLED Patch with Significant Melanogenesis Inhibition Effect
A KAIST research team led by Ph.d candidate Jae Hee Lee and Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has developed a surface-lighting microLED patch for UV-induced melanogenesis inhibition. Melanin is brown or dark pigments existing in the skin, which can be abnormally synthesized by external UV or stress. Since the excessive melanin leads to skin diseases such as spots and freckles, proper treatment is required to return normal skin condition. Recently, LED-based photo-stimulators have been released for skin care, however, their therapeutic effect is still controversial. Since conventional LED stimulators cannot conformally attach to the human skin, distance-induced side effects are caused by light loss and high heat transfer. To achieve effective phototreatment, the LED stimulator needs to be irradiated in contact with the human skin surface, enabling proper and uniform light deliver to the dermis with minimal optical loss. In this work, the research team fabricated skin-attachable surface-lighting microLED (SµLED, 4 × 4 cm2) patch by utilizing a thousand of microLED chips and silica-embedded light diffusion layer. 100 µm-sized LED chips are vertically-interconnected for high flexibility and low heat generation, allowing its long-term operation on the human skin. < Image 1. The overall concept of SµLED patch. a) SµLED patch operated on the human skin. b) Schematic illustration of SµLED patch structure. c) 4 × 4 cm2-sized SµLED patch. d) Schematic illustration of the advantages of SµLED patch such as efficient light delivery, low heat generation, and surface-lighting irradiation. > The research team confirmed melanogenesis inhibition by irradiating the SµLED patch and the conventional LED (CLED) on the artificial human skin and mice dorsal skin. The SµLED-treated groups of human cells and mouse tissues showed minimal epidermal photo-toxicity and consistently effective reduction in synthesized melanin, compared to CLED-treated groups. In addition, significant suppression of proteins/catalysts expression involved in melanin synthesis such as MITF (microphthalmia-associated transcription factor), Melan-A and tyrosinase was verified. < Image 2. The efficacy of melanogenesis inhibition on 3D human skin cells. a). Different irradiation conditions for a-MSH (major factor to stimulate melanin synthesis) treated cells. b) The ratio of pigmented area to total epidermis area. c) Relative variance of melanin level in 1 cm2-sized skin cells. A low variance means that melanin is evenly distributed, and a high variance means that the melanin is irregularly distributed. d) Optical images after in vitro experiments for 12 days. Scale bar, 1cm. e) Histological analysis of 3D skin, showing the greatest reduction in melanin after SµLED irradiation. Scale bar, 20 µm. > < Image 3. The efficacy of melanogenesis inhibition on mouse dorsal skin. a) Optical images of mice dorsal skin after photo-treatment for 20 days. b) Histological analysis of mice dorsal skin. Less brown color means less expression of protein/catalysis involved in melanin synthesis. Scale bar, 50 µm. > Prof. Keon Jae Lee said, “Our inorganic-based SµLED patch has outstanding characteristics in light efficiency, reliability, and durability. The SµLED patch is expected to give a great impact on the cosmetic field by reducing side effects and maximizing phototherapeutic effects.” The core technology of cosmetic SµLED has been transferred to Fronics co., Ltd, founded by Prof. Lee. Fronics is building foundry and equipment for mass production of SµLED masks for whole face cover and plans to release the products in March next year. This paper entitled “Wearable Surface-Lighting Micro-Light-Emitting Diode Patch for Melanogenesis Inhibition” was published in the November 2022 issue of Advanced Healthcare Materials.
See-through exhibitions using smartphones: KAIST develops the AR magic lens, WonderScope
WonderScope shows what’s underneath the surface of an object through an augmented reality technology. < Photo 1. Demonstration at ACM SIGGRAPH > - A KAIST research team led by Professor Woohun Lee from the Department of Industrial Design and Professor Geehyuk Lee from the School of Computing have developed a smartphone “appcessory” called WonderScope that can easily add an augmented reality (AR) perspective to the surface of exhibits - The research won an Honorable Mention for Emerging Technologies Best in Show at ACM SIGGRAPH, one of the largest international conferences on computer graphics and interactions - The technology was improved and validated through real-life applications in three special exhibitions including one at the Geological Museum at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) held in 2020, and two at the National Science Museum each in 2021 and 2022 - The technology is expected to be used for public science exhibitions and museums as well as for interactive teaching materials to stimulate children’s curiosity A KAIST research team led by Professor Woohun Lee from the Department of Industrial Design and Professor Geehyuk Lee from the School of Computing developed a novel augmented reality (AR) device, WonderScope, which displays the insides of an object directly from its surface. By installing and connecting WonderScope to a mobile device through Bluetooth, users can see through exhibits as if looking through a magic lens. Many science museums nowadays have incorporated the use of AR apps for mobile devices. Such apps add digital information to the exhibition, providing a unique experience. However, visitors must watch the screen from a certain distance away from the exhibited items, often causing them to focus more on the digital contents rather than the exhibits themselves. In other words, the distance and distractions that exist between the exhibit and the mobile device may actually cause the visitors to feel detached from the exhibition. To solve this problem, museums needed a magic AR lens that could be used directly from the surface of the item. To accomplish this, smartphones must know exactly where on the surface of an object it is placed. Generally, this would require an additional recognition device either on the inside or on the surface of the item, or a special pattern printed on its surface. Realistically speaking, these are impractical solutions, as exhibits would either appear overly complex or face spatial restrictions. WonderScope, on the other hand, uses a much more practical method to identify the location of a smartphone on the surface of an exhibit. First, it reads a small RFID tag attached to the surface of an object, and calculates the location of the moving smartphone by adding its relative movements based on the readings from an optical displacement sensor and an acceleration sensor. The research team also took into consideration the height of the smartphone, and the characteristics of the surface profile in order to calculate the device’s position more accurately. By attaching or embedding RFID tags on exhibits, visitors can easily experience the effects of a magic AR lens through their smartphones. For its wider use, WonderScope must be able to locate itself from various types of exhibit surfaces. To this end, WoderScope uses readings from an optical displacement sensor and an acceleration sensor with complementary characteristics, allowing stable locating capacities on various textures including paper, stone, wood, plastic, acrylic, and glass, as well as surfaces with physical patterns or irregularities. As a result, WonderScope can identify its location from a distance as close as 4 centimeters from an object, also enabling simple three-dimensional interactions near the surface of the exhibits. The research team developed various case project templates and WonderScope support tools to allow the facile production of smartphone apps that use general-purpose virtual reality (VR) and the game engine Unity. WonderScope is also compatible with various types of devices that run on the Android operating system, including smartwatches, smartphones, and tablets, allowing it to be applied to exhibitions in many forms. < Photo 2. Human body model showing demonstration > < Photo 3. Demonstration of the underground mineral exploration game > < Photo 4. Demonstration of Apollo 11 moon exploration experience > The research team developed WonderScope with funding from the science and culture exhibition enhancement support project by the Ministry of Science and ICT. Between October 27, 2020 and February 28, 2021, WonderScope was used to observe underground volcanic activity and the insides of volcanic rocks at “There Once was a Volcano”, a special exhibition held at the Geological Museum in the Korea institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM). From September 28 to October 3, 2021, it was used to observe the surface of Jung-moon-kyung (a bronze mirror with fine linear design) at the special exhibition “A Bronze Mirror Shines on Science” at the National Science Museum. And from August 2 to October 3, 2022 it was applied to a moon landing simulation at “The Special Exhibition on Moon Exploration”, also at the National Science Museum. Through various field demonstrations over the years, the research team has improved the performance and usability of WonderScope. < Photo 5. Observation of surface corrosion of the main gate > The research team demonstrated WonderScope at the Emerging Technologies forum during ACM SIGGRAPH 2022, a computer graphics and interaction technology conference that was held in Vancouver, Canada between August 8 and 11 this year. At this conference, where the latest interactive technologies are introduced, the team won an Honorable Mention for Best in Show. The judges commented that “WonderScope will be a new technology that provides the audience with a unique joy of participation during their visits to exhibitions and museums.” < Photo 6. Cover of Digital Creativity > WonderScope is a cylindrical “appcessory” module, 5cm in diameter and 4.5cm in height. It is small enough to be easily attached to a smartphone and embedded on most exhibits. Professor Woohun Lee from the KAIST Department of Industrial Design, who supervised the research, said, “WonderScope can be applied to various applications including not only educational, but also industrial exhibitions, in many ways.” He added, “We also expect for it to be used as an interactive teaching tool that stimulates children’s curiosity.” Introductory video of WonderScope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2MyAXRt7h4&t=7s
KAIST develops biocompatible adhesive applicable to hair transplants
Aside from being used as a new medical adhesive, the new material can be applied to developing a new method of hair transplants, which cannot be repeated multiple times using current method of implanting the wholly intact follicles into the skin. Medical adhesives are materials that can be applied to various uses such as wound healing, hemostasis, vascular anastomosis, and tissue engineering, and is expected to contribute greatly to the development of minimally invasive surgery and organ transplants. However, adhesives with high adhesion, low toxicity, and capable of decomposing in the body are rare. Adhesives based on natural proteins, such as fibrin and collagen, have high biocompatibility but insufficient adhesive strength. Synthetic polymer adhesives based on urethane or acrylic have greater adhesion but do not decompose well and may cause an inflammatory reaction in the body. A joint research team led by Professor Myungeun Seo and Professor Haeshin Lee from the KAIST Department of Chemistry developed a bio-friendly adhesive from biocompatible polymers using tannic acid, the source of astringency in wine. The research team focused on tannic acid, a natural polyphenolic product. Tannic acid is a polyphenol present in large amounts in fruit peels, nuts, and cacao. It has a high affinity and coating ability on other substances, and we sense the astringent taste in wine when tannic acid sticks to the surface of our tongue. When tannic acid is mixed with hydrophilic polymers, they form coacervates, or small droplets of jelly-like fluids that sink. If the polymers used are biocompatible, the mixture can be applied as a medical adhesive with low toxicity. However, coacervates are fundamentally fluid-like and cannot withstand large forces, which limits their adhesive capabilities. Thus, while research to utilize it as an adhesive has been actively discussed, a biodegradable material exhibiting strong adhesion due to its high shear strength has not yet been developed. The research team figured out a way to enhance adhesion by mixing two biocompatible FDA-approved polymers, polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polylactic acid (PLA). While PEG, which is used widely in eyedrops and cream, is hydrophilic, PLA, a well-known bioplastic derived from lactic acid, is insoluble in water. The team combined the two into a block copolymer, which forms hydrophilic PLA aggregates in water with PEG blocks surrounding them. A coacervate created by mixing the micelles and tannic acid would behave like a solid due to the hard PLA components, and show an elastic modulus improved by a thousand times compared to PEG, enabling it to withstand much greater force as an adhesive. Figure 1. (Above) Principle of biodegradable adhesive made by mixing poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(lactic acid) diblock copolymer and tannic acid in water. Yellow coacervate is precipitated through hydrogen bonding between the block copolymer micelles and tannic acid, and exhibits adhesion. After heat treatment, hydrogen bonds are rearranged to further improve adhesion. (Bottom) Adhesion comparison. Compared to using poly(ethylene glycol) polymer (d), it can support 10 times more weight when using block copolymer (e) and 60 times more weight after heat treatment (f). The indicated G' values represent the elastic modulus of the material. Furthermore, the research team observed that the material’s mechanical properties can be improved by over a hundred times through a heating and cooling process that is used to heat-treat metals. They also discovered that this is due to the enforced interactions between micelle and tannic acid arrays. The research team used the fact that the material shows minimal irritation to the skin and decomposes well in the body to demonstrate its possible application as an adhesive for hair transplantation through an animal experiment. Professor Haeshin Lee, who has pioneered various application fields including medical adhesives, hemostatic agents, and browning shampoo, focused on the adhesive capacities and low toxicity of polyphenols like tannic acid, and now looks forward to it improving the limitations of current hair transplant methods, which still involve follicle transfer and are difficult to be repeated multiple times. Figure 2. (a) Overview of a hair transplantation method using a biodegradable adhesive (right) compared to a conventional hair transplantation method (left) that transplants hair containing hair follicles. After applying an adhesive to the tip of the hair, it is fixed to the skin by implanting it through a subcutaneous injection, and repeated treatment is possible. (b) Initial animal test results. One day after 15 hair transplantation, 12 strands of hair remain. If you pull the 3 strands of hair, you can see that the whole body is pulled up, indicating that it is firmly implanted into the skin. All strands of hair applied without the new adhesive material fell off, and in the case of adhesive without heat treatment, the efficiency was 1/7. This research was conducted by first co-authors Dr. Jongmin Park (currently a senior researcher at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology) from Professor Myeongeun Seo’s team and Dr. Eunsook Park from Professor Haeshin Lee’s team in the KAIST Department of Chemistry, and through joint research with the teams led by Professor Hyungjun Kim from the KAIST Department of Chemistry and Professor Siyoung Choi from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The research was published online on August 22 in the international journal Au (JACS Au) under the title Biodegradable Block Copolymer-Tannic Acid Glue. This study was funded by the Support Research Under Protection Project of the National Research Foundation (NRF), Leading Research Center Support Project (Research Center for Multiscale Chiral Structure), Biodegradable Plastics Commercialization and Demonstration Project by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and institutional funding from the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology.
NYC-KAIST Cooperation Agreement Signed in New York for KAIST NYU Joint Campus
A ceremony was held to celebrate the signing of the Cooperative Agreement between NYC and KAIST and the presentation of the signage for KAIST NYU Joint Campus at NYU’s Kimmel Center in Manhattan. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee (left) and NYU President Andrew Hamilton (right) KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) signed a cooperative agreement with the City of New York and had an official showing of the signage for the Joint Campus of KAIST and New York University (NYU) on September 21 at 4:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time) at NYU’s Kimmel Center in New York City with the NYC Mayor Eric Adams, the Korean Minister of Science and ICT Dr. Lee Jong-ho, NYU Chairman William Berkley, NYU President Andrew Hamilton, and other distinguished guests in attendance. KAIST and NYU signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June about building a joint campus in an effort to educate global talent. As a follow-up measure, NYU has provided KAIST with space to begin joint research programs and held a ceremony to present the signage designed for the future KAIST NYU Campus. In line with these efforts, KAIST has also signed an agreement with New York City, the administrative authority in charge of the establishment of the campus, for mutual cooperation. NYU is a prestigious university headquartered in Manhattan, New York. It has nurtured outstanding talents in the humanities, art, and basic sciences, including 38 Nobel Prize winners, 5 Fields Prize winners, 26 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 38 Academy Award winners to be deserving of the evaluation. The proposed joint campus is to be centered on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by combining NYU's excellent basic sciences and convergence research capabilities with KAIST's globally renowned science and technology capabilities. The joint initiative is expected to launch in 2023; its programs will focus on areas such as AI Basic Science, AI Convergence Brain Science, AI-Applied Cyber Security, Cyber Security, and Sustainable High-Tech Smart City/Climate Change in order to lead the Digital Era and to solve the problems that surfaced following the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, in order to prepare for the Post-AI Era, it was decided to create the “New Engineering” program for undergraduate program that employs a hyper-convergence learning model that combines project-based, problem-solving learning (PBL, PSL) pedagogy. ▲ Biomedical Engineering- Research and development of technology to respond to the entire cycle (prevention-treatment-diagnosis-prediction) for a new infectious disease (Disease X) by converging new technologies such as IT and NT with biomedical technologies ▲ AI Convergence Neuroscience- Research on brain-machine interaction and brain-based machine learning through AI technology convergence ▲ AI Science- Algorithm development and in-depth research in preparation for the post AI era ▲ Sustainability and Climate Change- R&DB for advanced smart cities, sustainability for the global environment and carbon zero ▲ Next-generation Wireless Communications- From ICT to AIT: Research on 6G/7G related technologies, new communications theories, and etc. ▲ Cyber Security- Advanced research on protection of digital information and information safety/reliability KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee (left) and NYC Mayor Eric Adams (right) The KAIST NYU Joint Campus has started enlisting professors and researchers from both institutions to participate in the collaboration. The campus will also function as the headquarter that will oversee the operation of the joint research program. At Daejeon, KAIST is also setting up a location for NYU on its main campus to provide space for NYU researchers upon their visit to KAIST. The KAIST NYU Joint Campus, which has begun to take basic shape with the space for collaboration rendered this time, is to be upgraded to “KAIST New York Campus” in the future to function also as an industry-academic cooperation campus in which that promotes strategic cooperation with industries and expands start-up opportunities. To this end, the related procedures from the detailing of the establishment plans through a preliminary feasibility studies, to deliberation and decision on whether to proceed with the establishment by the KAIST Board of Trustees, will be taken. The KAIST NYU Campus is expected to serve as a stepping stone for the outstanding talents of KAIST to pursue their dreams in the global market and research environment while seizing the attention of the world-class talents drawn to New York at the same time. In addition, by combining NYU's strong basic academic capabilities with KAIST’s strengths, it is expected to contribute to achieving 'global innovation' by creating synergies in various fields such as education, research, and entrepreneurship. The future KAIST-NYU Campus is also expected to encompass an industry-academic cooperation campus with industrial partners and startups. Meanwhile, KAIST is planning to expand its excellent scientific and technological capabilities to the global stage through the cooperative agreement with New York City, and to prepare a pathway for KAIST students, faculty, and startups to enter their respective fields in the global markets. In the future, KAIST plans to explore areas of cooperation in different fields, such as education, economy, society, and culture, to prepare and implement detailed cooperation plans. < KAIST-New York City Cooperation Items (Example) > ▲ Education: Joint degree program with a university in New York City, training of key talents in the field of artificial intelligence, etc. ▲ Economy: A hub for technology startups, job creation in the tech sector, etc. ▲ Society: Economics, finance, media-related engineering research, etc. ▲ Culture: Diversity-based culture and art-tech research, etc.▲ Etc: Joint research in the field of artificial intelligence healthcare, etc. As a global mecca for startups, education, and investment, New York has a well-developed global network for cultural diversity and successful career development, and has great power to attract various resources including funds and talented individuals. Based on this, it has established itself as a mecca of global tech companies and global top media groups, and is building the reputation as 'Silicon Alley' in addition to its legends of the ‘Wall Street'. Dr. Andrew Hamilton, the president of NYU, said, “We’re delighted by our newly established partnership with KAIST. We see great potential in the opportunities to collaborate on development of courses, research, cutting edge technologies, university-level courses, degrees, entrepreneurship initiatives and industrial partnerships, and exchanges. We believe this partnership is very much in line with NYU’s commitment to global engagement and will make important contributions to New York’s tech sector. It’s exciting to think how much NYU and KAIST have much to learn from one another, and how much we may accomplish together.” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “We’re proud to have helped facilitate this partnership between KAIST and New York University, which will be a real win for students and help drive continued innovation in our city.” He added, “From the time that senior members of our administration learned about this opportunity during a recent trip to South Korea, we have worked closely with KAIST to develop strategies for increasing their presence and investments in New York. This is the start of a relationship that I am confident will bring even more academic, business, and technological opportunities to the five boroughs.” Dr. Kwang Hyung Lee, the president of KAIST, urged, “Based on the KAIST-NYU partnership, we must create an interdisciplinary hyper-convergence model of collaboration and use cutting-edge tools to create an innovative model for new type of problem-solving engineering education to prepare to solve the challenges facing the world.” He went on to stress, “The new fusion engineering degree program will leverage the unique strengths of the two institutions to provide a uniquely colored education not found anywhere else.” In addition, he added, “KAIST will utilize the advantages that are unique to the global city of New York to contribute to advancing the science and technology research in New York City and creating jobs in the tech sector to lead the renaissance of Silicon Alley.”
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