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Success in differentiating Functional Vascular Progenitor Cells (VPC)
KAIST’s Professor Han Yong Man successfully differentiated vascular progenitor cells from human embryonic stem cells and reversed differentiated stem cells. The research went beyond the current method of synthesis of embryonic body or mice cell ball culture and used the careful alteration of signal transmission system of the human embryonic stem cells to differentiate the formation of vascular progenitor cells. The team controlled the MEK/ERK and BMP signal transmission system that serves an important role in the self replication of human embryonic stem cells and successfully differentiated 20% of the cells experimented on to vascular progenitor cells. The vascular progenitor cells produced with such a method successfully differentiated into cells forming the endodermis of the blood vessel, vascular smooth muscle cells and hematopoietic cells in an environment outside of the human body and also successfully differentiated into blood vessels in nude mice. In addition, the vascular progenitor cell derived from human embryonic cells successfully formed blood vessels or secreted vascular growth factors and increased the blood flow and the necrosis of blood vessels when injected into an animal with limb ischemic illness. The research was funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, 21st Century Frontier Research and Development Institution’s Cell Application Research Department and Professor Ko Kyu Young (KAIST), Professor Choi Chul Hee (KAIST), Professor Jeong Hyung Min (Cha Medical School) and Doctor Jo Lee Sook (Researcher in Korea Bio Engineering Institute) participated in it. The results of the research was published as the cover paper of the September edition of “Blood (IF:10.55)”, the American Blood Journal and has been patented domestically and has finished registration of foreign PCT. The results of the experiment opened the possibility of providing a patient specific cure using stem cells in the field of blood vessel illness.
KAIST developed a plastic film board less sensitive to heat.
The research result was made the cover of magazine, Advanced Materials and is accredited to paving the way to commercialize flexible display screens and solar power cells. Transparent plastic and glass cloths, which have a limited thermal expansion needed for the production of flexible display screens and solar power cells, were developed by Korean researchers. The research, led by KAIST’s Professor Byoung-Soo Bae, was funded by the Engineering Research Center under the initiative of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. The research result was printed as the cover paper of ‘Advanced Materials’ which is the leading magazine in the field of materials science. Professor Bae’s team developed a hybrid material with the same properties as fiber glass. With the material, they created a transparent, plastic film sheet resistant to heat. Transparent plastic film sheets were used by researchers all over the world to develop devices such as flexible displays or solar power cells that can be fit into various living spaces. However, plastic films are heat sensitive and tend to expand as temperature increases, thereby making it difficult to produce displays or solar power cells. The new transparent, plastic film screen shows that heat expansion index (13ppm/oC) similar to that of glass fiber (9ppm/oC) due to the presence of glass fibers; its heat resistance allows to be used for displays and solar power cells over 250oC. Professor Bae’s team succeeded in producing a flexible thin plastic film available for use in LCD or AMOLED screens and thin solar power cells. Professor Bae commented, “Not only the newly developed plastic film has superior qualities, compared to the old models, but also it is cheap to produce, potentially bringing forward the day when flexible displays and solar panels become commonplace. With the cooperation of various industries, research institutes and universities, we will strive to improve the existing design and develop it further.”
News Article: Naro space rocket getting ready for second launch, April 12, 2010
News Article on KIAST published on April 12, 2010 The Korea Herald, 2010-04-12 17:07 Naro space rocket getting ready for second launch By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org) The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is checking on the second launch of Naro, Korea’s first space rocket, as all the necessary parts were transferred to the launch center last week. The Science Technology Satellite No. 2 was transferred last Thursday from the KAIST Satellite Technology Research Center in Daejeon to the Naro Space Center in South Jeolla Province, said ministry officials. The solid-fuel second-stage rocket reached the center last Monday and the liquid-fuel first-stage rocket did so on March 23. The latter was manufactured in Russia’s Khrunichev State Space Science and Production Center. The satellite, a small one weighing 100 kilograms, was co-developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, KAIST SaTReC and the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology. It is to revolve around the Earth for two years collecting data on climate change by gauging the hydrogen content in the atmosphere, said officials. “With all the crucial parts ready here in the center, we have officially kicked off our final investigation before setting the details of the second Naro launch,” said a ministry official. Second Vice Minister Kim Joong-hyun last week visited the Naro center to attend the overall inspection on all facilities related to the rocket launch. The date has not yet been set for the second launch but will be fixed within this month, said officials. With the general inspection completed on the facilities, the first-stage rocket and the satellite will be assembled and the combination will be joined by the second-stage rocket in May. The first launching attempt ended in failure in August due to faulty electrical wiring or a mechanical problem in the fairing separation mechanism, according to panels. The two fairings -- used to cover and protect the satellite placed on top of the Naro -- failed to separate timely and thus stopped the satellite from gaining sufficient velocity to reach its planned orbit. Korea has so far spent 502.4 billion won ($428.1 million) on the Naro project since it began in August 2002.
New drug targeting method for microbial pathogens developed using in silico cell
A ripple effect is expected on the new antibacterial discovery using “in silico” cells Featured as a journal cover paper of Molecular BioSystems A research team of Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee at KAIST recently constructed an in silico cell of a microbial pathogen that is resistant to antibiotics and developed a new drug targeting method that could effectively disrupt the pathogen"s growth using the in silico cell. Hyun Uk Kim, a graduate research assistant at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, KAIST, conducted this study as a part of his thesis research, and the study was featured as a journal cover paper in the February issue of Molecular BioSystems this year, published by The Royal Society of Chemistry based in Europe. It was relatively easy to treat infectious microbes using antibiotics in the past. However, the overdose of antibiotics has caused pathogens to increase their resistance to various antibiotics, and it has become more difficult to cure infectious diseases these days. A representative microbial pathogen is Acinetobacter baumannaii. Originally isolated from soils and water, this microorganism did not have resistance to antibiotics, and hence it was easy to eradicate them if infected. However, within a decade, this miroorganism has transformed into a dreadful super-bacterium resistant to antibiotics and caused many casualties among the U.S. and French soldiers who were injured from the recent Iraqi war and infected with Acinetobacter baumannaii. Professor Lee’s group constructed an in silico cell of this A. baumannii by computationally collecting, integrating, and analyzing the biological information of the bacterium, scattered over various databases and literatures, in order to study this organism"s genomic features and system-wide metabolic characteristics. Furthermore, they employed this in silico cell for integrative approaches, including several network analysis and analysis of essential reactions and metabolites, to predict drug targets that effectively disrupt the pathogen"s growth. Final drug targets are the ones that selectively kill pathogens without harming human body. Here, essential reactions refer to enzymatic reactions required for normal metabolic functioning in organisms, while essential metabolites indicate chemical compounds required in the metabolism for proper functioning, and their removal brings about the effect of simultaneously disrupting their associated enzymes that interact with them. This study attempted to predict highly reliable drug targets by systematically scanning biological components, including metabolic genes, enzymatic reactions, that constitute an in silico cell in a short period of time. This research achievement is highly regarded as it, for the first time, systematically scanned essential metabolites for the effective drug targets using the concept of systems biology, and paved the way for a new antibacterial discovery. This study is also expected to contribute to elucidating the infectious mechanism caused by pathogens. "Although tons of genomic information is poured in at this moment, application research that efficiently converts this preliminary information into actually useful information is still lagged behind. In this regard, this study is meaningful in that medically useful information is generated from the genomic information of Acinetobacter baumannii," says Professor Lee. "In particular, development of this organism"s in silico cell allows generation of new knowledge regarding essential genes and enzymatic reactions under specific conditions," he added. This study was supported by the Korean Systems Biology Project of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the patent for the development of in silico cells of microbial pathogens and drug targeting methods has been filed. [Picture 1 Cells in silico] [Picture 2 A process of generating drug targets without harming human body while effectively disrupting the growth of a pathogen, after predicting metabolites from in silico cells]
Super-Fast Internet Data Chip Developed
A KAIST research team led by Prof. Kyoung-Hoon Yang of the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department developed a super-fast chip that could lead to huge advancements in broadband Internet technology, the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said on Thursday (June 26). The multiplexer chip is the first of its kind to be developed using the quantum effect of resonant tunnelling diode, according to the Ministry. The integrated circuit chip built at the university laboratory has an operating speed of 45 gigabits per second (Gb/s), while using roughly 75 percent less energy than the previous version. The speed enables the transfer of about 4 full-length movies in one second. The best operational broadband Internet services provide users with data transfer speed of 40 Gb/s, while most other high-speed online connections offer 10 Gb/s. "Besides speed, the greatest achievement is low energy use," Prof. Yang said. He stressed that energy use in chips is a crucial factor because power creates heat that can melt circuits and make them inoperable. "By cutting down on energy use, the new chips can be made smaller and with faster data transfer speed," the scientist said. He added that efforts are underway to increase operational speed to 100 Gb/s, with energy consumption to be cut to 10 percent of current chips like the high electron mobility transistor, the heterojunction bipolar transistor and the complementary metal oxide semiconductor. The researcher speculated that such revolutionary chips could be developed in 1-2 years and become the new benchmark in this field since existing chips have limited development capabilities. The project has received funding from the Education-Science-Technology Ministry since 2000. The Ministry"s financial support will last until 2010.
KAIST, ICU Agree to Merge
KAIST and the Information and Communications University, a state-run institution, decided to merge as they signed a memorandum of understanding for unification at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul on May 23. The MOU signing ceremony was attended by representatives of the two universities and related high-ranking government officials from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Under the agreement, the two universities will form a joint committee to complete the merger process by the end of this year. According to the MOU, ICU will become the "IT Convergence Campus" (ICC) which will include KAIST"s IT related departments and research institutes. The projected ICC will be headed by a KAIST vice president, KAIST authorities said. With the merger, the number of KAIST students in the IT area will increase to 2,850 from 1,951, while the number of IT-related faculty members will rise to 157 from 99. ICU was established in 1997 by the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, and some major Korean IT companies. Located in Daedeok Science Town in Daejeon where KAIST is also situated, ICU started as a graduate school and added the undergraduate course in 2002. It currently has a total enrollment of 1,121 students -- 481undergraduate students, 324 graduate students and 316 doctorate students. KAIST said that it will treat ICU professors and staff equally after the merger. This year, the two universities will separately conduct freshmen recruitment procedures for 2009, but will then unify recruitment. The unification of the two institutions is expected to give KAIST the competitive edge through a larger faculty, student body, and expanded facilities. The agreement put an end to extended negotiations for merger which started in July 2006. The talk of merging the two universities surfaced when the Board of Audit and Inspection concluded that the government"s direct financial support for ICU was unlawful as ICU was established as a private school. When ICU was established in 1997, the Ministry of Information and Communication provided 200 billion won as the basic endowment and has continually provided 10 billion won in operating funds each year.
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