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Metabolically Engineered Bacterium Produces Lutein
A research group at KAIST has engineered a bacterial strain capable of producing lutein. The research team applied systems metabolic engineering strategies, including substrate channeling and electron channeling, to enhance the production of lutein in an engineered Escherichia coli strain. The strategies will be also useful for the efficient production of other industrially important natural products used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Figure: Systems metabolic engineering was employed to construct and optimize the metabolic pathways for lutein production, and substrate channeling and electron channeling strategies were additionally employed to increase the production of the lutein with high productivity. Lutein is classified as a xanthophyll chemical that is abundant in egg yolk, fruits, and vegetables. It protects the eye from oxidative damage from radiation and reduces the risk of eye diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts. Commercialized products featuring lutein are derived from the extracts of the marigold flower, which is known to harbor abundant amounts of lutein. However, the drawback of lutein production from nature is that it takes a long time to grow and harvest marigold flowers. Furthermore, it requires additional physical and chemical-based extractions with a low yield, which makes it economically unfeasible in terms of productivity. The high cost and low yield of these bioprocesses has made it difficult to readily meet the demand for lutein. These challenges inspired the metabolic engineers at KAIST, including researchers Dr. Seon Young Park, Ph.D. Candidate Hyunmin Eun, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The team’s study entitled “Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli with electron channeling for the production of natural products” was published in Nature Catalysis on August 5, 2022. This research details the ability to produce lutein from E. coli with a high yield using a cheap carbon source, glycerol, via systems metabolic engineering. The research group focused on solving the bottlenecks of the biosynthetic pathway for lutein production constructed within an individual cell. First, using systems metabolic engineering, which is an integrated technology to engineer the metabolism of a microorganism, lutein was produced when the lutein biosynthesis pathway was introduced, albeit in very small amounts. To improve the productivity of lutein production, the bottleneck enzymes within the metabolic pathway were first identified. It turned out that metabolic reactions that involve a promiscuous enzyme, an enzyme that is involved in two or more metabolic reactions, and electron-requiring cytochrome P450 enzymes are the main bottleneck steps of the pathway inhibiting lutein biosynthesis. To overcome these challenges, substrate channeling, a strategy to artificially recruit enzymes in physical proximity within the cell in order to increase the local concentrations of substrates that can be converted into products, was employed to channel more metabolic flux towards the target chemical while reducing the formation of unwanted byproducts. Furthermore, electron channeling, a strategy similar to substrate channeling but differing in terms of increasing the local concentrations of electrons required for oxidoreduction reactions mediated by P450 and its reductase partners, was applied to further streamline the metabolic flux towards lutein biosynthesis, which led to the highest titer of lutein production achieved in a bacterial host ever reported. The same electron channeling strategy was successfully applied for the production of other natural products including nootkatone and apigenin in E. coli, showcasing the general applicability of the strategy in the research field. “It is expected that this microbial cell factory-based production of lutein will be able to replace the current plant extraction-based process,” said Dr. Seon Young Park, the first author of the paper. She explained that another important point of the research is that integrated metabolic engineering strategies developed from this study can be generally applicable for the efficient production of other natural products useful as pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals. “As maintaining good health in an aging society is becoming increasingly important, we expect that the technology and strategies developed here will play pivotal roles in producing other valuable natural products of medical or nutritional importance,” explained Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee. This work was supported by the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science & Technology Development funded by the Rural Development Administration of Korea, with further support from the Development of Next-generation Biorefinery Platform Technologies for Leading Bio-based Chemicals Industry Project and by the Development of Platform Technologies of Microbial Cell Factories for the Next-generation Biorefineries Project of the National Research Foundation funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea.
Five Projects Ranked in the Top 100 for National R&D Excellence
Five KAIST research projects were selected as the 2021 Top 100 for National R&D Excellence by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Institute of Science & Technology Evaluation and Planning. The five projects are:-The development of E. coli that proliferates with only formic acid and carbon dioxide by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering -An original reverse aging technology that restores an old human skin cell into a younger one by Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering-The development of next-generation high-efficiency perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells by Professor Byungha Shin from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering-Research on the effects of ultrafine dust in the atmosphere has on energy consumption by Professor Jiyong Eom from the School of Business and Technology Management-Research on a molecular trigger that controls the phase transformation of bio materials by Professor Myungchul Kim from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering Started in 2006, an Evaluation Committee composed of experts in industries, universities, and research institutes has made the preliminary selections of the most outstanding research projects based on their significance as a scientific and technological development and their socioeconomic effects. The finalists went through an open public evaluation. The final 100 studies are from six fields: 18 from mechanics & materials, 26 from biology & marine sciences, 19 from ICT & electronics, 10 from interdisciplinary research, and nine from natural science and infrastructure. The selected 100 studies will receive a certificate and an award plaque from the minister of MSIT as well as additional points for business and institutional evaluations according to appropriate regulations, and the selected researchers will be strongly recommended as candidates for national meritorious awards. In particular, to help the 100 selected research projects become more accessible for the general public, their main contents will be provided in a free e-book ‘The Top 100 for National R&D Excellence of 2021’ that will be available from online booksellers.
A Study Shows Reactive Electrolyte Additives Improve Lithium Metal Battery Performance
Stable electrode-electrolyte interfaces constructed by fluorine- and nitrogen-donating ionic additives provide an opportunity to improve high-performance lithium metal batteries A research team showed that electrolyte additives increase the lifetime of lithium metal batteries and remarkably improve the performance of fast charging and discharging. Professor Nam-Soon Choi’s team from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST hierarchized the solid electrolyte interphase to make a dual-layer structure and showed groundbreaking run times for lithium metal batteries. The team applied two electrolyte additives that have different reduction and adsorption properties to improve the functionality of the dual-layer solid electrolyte interphase. In addition, the team has confirmed that the structural stability of the nickel-rich cathode was achieved through the formation of a thin protective layer on the cathode. This study was reported in Energy Storage Materials. Securing high-energy-density lithium metal batteries with a long lifespan and fast charging performance is vital for realizing their ubiquitous use as superior power sources for electric vehicles. Lithium metal batteries comprise a lithium metal anode that delivers 10 times higher capacity than the graphite anodes in lithium-ion batteries. Therefore, lithium metal is an indispensable anode material for realizing high-energy rechargeable batteries. However, undesirable reactions among the electrolytes with lithium metal anodes can reduce the power and this remains an impediment to achieving a longer battery lifespan. Previous studies only focused on the formation of the solid electrolyte interphase on the surface of the lithium metal anode. The team designed a way to create a dual-layer solid electrolyte interphase to resolve the instability of the lithium metal anode by using electrolyte additives, depending on their electron accepting ability and adsorption tendencies. This hierarchical structure of the solid electrolyte interphase on the lithium metal anode has the potential to be further applied to lithium-alloy anodes, lithium storage structures, and anode-free technology to meet market expectations for electrolyte technology. The batteries with lithium metal anodes and nickel-rich cathodes represented 80.9% of the initial capacity after 600 cycles and achieved a high Coulombic efficiency of 99.94%. These remarkable results contributed to the development of protective dual-layer solid electrolyte interphase technology for lithium metal anodes. Professor Choi said that the research suggests a new direction for the development of electrolyte additives to regulate the unstable lithium metal anode-electrolyte interface, the biggest hurdle in research on lithium metal batteries. She added that anode-free secondary battery technology is expected to be a game changer in the secondary battery market and electrolyte additive technology will contribute to the enhancement of anode-free secondary batteries through the stabilization of lithium metal anodes. This research was funded by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Change of the National Research Foundation in Korea funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning and the Technology Innovation Program funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, and Hyundai Motor Company. - PublicationSaehun Kim, Sung O Park, Min-Young Lee, Jeong-A Lee, Imanuel Kristanto, Tae Kyung Lee, Daeyeon Hwang, Juyoung Kim, Tae-Ung Wi, Hyun-Wook Lee, Sang Kyu Kwak, and NamSoon Choi, “Stable electrode-electrolyte interfaces constructed by fluorine- and nitrogen-donating ionic additives for high-performance lithium metal batteries,” Energy Storage Materials,45, 1-13 (2022), (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ensm.2021.10.031) - ProfileProfessor Nam-Soon ChoiEnergy Materials LaboratoryDepartment of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringKAIST
VP Sang Yup Lee Honored with the Pony Chung Innovation Award
Vice President for Research Sang Yup Lee became the recipient of the Innovation Award by the Pony Chung Foundation that was established to honor the late Se-yung Chung, the former chairman of Hyundai Development Company. He will receive 200 million KRW in prize money. Chairman Chung developed Korea’s first domestically manufactured automobile, ‘Pony,’ in the mid-1970s that became the cornerstone of Korea’s auto industry today. Distinguished Professor Lee, from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is a pioneering scholar in the field of systems metabolic engineering who developed various micro-organisms for producing a wide range of fuels, chemicals, materials, and natural compounds. He recently was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society in the UK and is the first Korean ever elected into the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in the US as well as one of 13 scholars elected as an International Member of both the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in the US.
Professor Jung Receives the Hansong Science Award
Professor Yousung Jung of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has been selected as the recipient of the 5th Hansong Science Award in Chemistry. The award recognizes young and mid-career scholars who made outstanding achievement in physics, chemistry, and life sciences. Recipients receive 50 million KRW in prize money. Professor Jung was recognized for finding a new way to predict synthesis potentials when designing data-based materials and molecules through AI-powered inverse technology. Conventionally, new material discovery mainly relied on a method where the new materials were proposed by an expert’s intuition or experimental trial, then synthesized to measure the properties of the material before it was used. However, this method took a lot of time, which resulted in an inefficient discovery process. Professor Jung’s AI reverse design technology is reported to be more efficient for discovering new materials by finding crystal structures with desired properties using data and AI algorithms. "AI reverse design technology can accelerate the development of new materials and new drugs," Professor Jung said. "It can be used as an algorithm for future autonomous laboratories implemented by robots, algorithms, and data without human intervention," he added.
Centrifugal Multispun Nanofibers Put a New Spin on COVID-19 Masks
KAIST researchers have developed a novel nanofiber production technique called ‘centrifugal multispinning’ that will open the door for the safe and cost-effective mass production of high-performance polymer nanofibers. This new technique, which has shown up to a 300 times higher nanofiber production rate per hour than that of the conventional electrospinning method, has many potential applications including the development of face mask filters for coronavirus protection. Nanofibers make good face mask filters because their mechanical interactions with aerosol particles give them a greater ability to capture more than 90% of harmful particles such as fine dust and virus-containing droplets. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the growing demand in recent years for a better kind of face mask. A polymer nanofiber-based mask filter that can more effectively block harmful particles has also been in higher demand as the pandemic continues. ‘Electrospinning’ has been a common process used to prepare fine and uniform polymer nanofibers, but in terms of safety, cost-effectiveness, and mass production, it has several drawbacks. The electrospinning method requires a high-voltage electric field and electrically conductive target, and this hinders the safe and cost-effective mass production of polymer nanofibers. In response to this shortcoming, ‘centrifugal spinning’ that utilizes centrifugal force instead of high voltage to produce polymer nanofibers has been suggested as a safer and more cost-effective alternative to the electrospinning. Easy scalability is another advantage, as this technology only requires a rotating spinneret and a collector. However, since the existing centrifugal force-based spinning technology employs only a single rotating spinneret, productivity is limited and not much higher than that of some advanced electrospinning technologies such as ‘multi-nozzle electrospinning’ and ‘nozzleless electrospinning.’ This problem persists even when the size of the spinneret is increased. Inspired by these limitations, a research team led by Professor Do Hyun Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST developed a centrifugal multispinning spinneret with mass-producibility, by sectioning a rotating spinneret into three sub-disks. This study was published as a front cover article of ACS Macro Letters, Volume 10, Issue 3 in March 2021. Using this new centrifugal multispinning spinneret with three sub-disks, the lead author of the paper PhD candidate Byeong Eun Kwak and his fellow researchers Hyo Jeong Yoo and Eungjun Lee demonstrated the gram-scale production of various polymer nanofibers with a maximum production rate of up to 25 grams per hour, which is approximately 300 times higher than that of the conventional electrospinning system. The production rate of up to 25 grams of polymer nanofibers per hour corresponds to the production rate of about 30 face mask filters per day in a lab-scale manufacturing system. By integrating the mass-produced polymer nanofibers into the form of a mask filter, the researchers were able to fabricate face masks that have comparable filtration performance with the KF80 and KF94 face masks that are currently available in the Korean market. The KF80 and KF94 masks have been approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea to filter out at least 80% and 94% of harmful particles respectively. “When our system is scaled up from the lab scale to an industrial scale, the large-scale production of centrifugal multispun polymer nanofibers will be made possible, and the cost of polymer nanofiber-based face mask filters will also be lowered dramatically,” Kwak explained. This work was supported by the KAIST-funded Global Singularity Research Program for 2020. Publication: Byeong Eun Kwak, Hyo Jeong Yoo, Eungjun Lee, and Do Hyun Kim. (2021) Large-Scale Centrifugal Multispinning Production of Polymer Micro- and Nanofibers for Mask Filter Application with a Potential of Cospinning Mixed Multicomponent Fibers. ACS Macro Letters, Volume No. 10, Issue No. 3, pp. 382-388. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1021/acsmacrolett.0c00829 Profile: Do Hyun Kim, Sc.D. Professor email@example.com http://procal.kaist.ac.kr/ Process Analysis Laboratory Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering https:/kaist.ac.kr/en/ Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
ACS Nano Special Edition Highlights Innovations at KAIST
- The collective intelligence and technological innovation of KAIST was highlighted with case studies including the Post-COVID-19 New Deal R&D Initiative Project. - KAIST’s innovative academic achievements and R&D efforts for addressing the world’s greatest challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic were featured in ACS Nano as part of its special virtual issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of KAIST. The issue consisted of 14 review articles contributed by KAIST faculty from five departments, including two from Professor Il-Doo Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who serves as an associate editor of the ACS Nano. ACS Nano, the leading international journal in nanoscience and nanotechnology, published a special virtual issue last month, titled ‘Celebrating 50 Years of KAIST: Collective Intelligence and Innovation for Confronting Contemporary Issues.’ This special virtual issue introduced KAIST’s vision of becoming a ‘global value-creative leading university’ and its progress toward this vision over the last 50 years. The issue explained how KAIST has served as the main hub for advanced scientific research and technological innovation in South Korea since its establishment in 1971, and how its faculty and over 69,000 graduates played a key role in propelling the nation’s rapid industrialization and economic development. The issue also emphasized the need for KAIST to enhance global cooperation and the exchange of ideas in the years to come, especially during the post-COVID era intertwined with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). In this regard, the issue cited the first ‘KAIST Emerging Materials e-Symposium (EMS)’, which was held online for five days in September of last year with a global audience of over 10,000 participating live via Zoom and YouTube, as a successful example of what academic collaboration could look like in the post-COVID and 4IR eras. In addition, the “Science & Technology New Deal Project for COVID-19 Response,” a project conducted by KAIST with support from the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) of South Korea, was also introduced as another excellent case of KAIST’s collective intelligence and technological innovation. The issue highlighted some key achievements from this project for overcoming the pandemic-driven crisis, such as: reusable anti-virus filters, negative-pressure ambulances for integrated patient transport and hospitalization, and movable and expandable negative-pressure ward modules. “We hold our expectations high for the outstanding achievements and progress KAIST will have made by its centennial,” said Professor Kim on the background of curating the 14 review articles contributed by KAIST faculty from the fields of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE), Nuclear and Quantum Engineering (NQE), Electrical Engineering (EE), and Chemistry (Chem). Review articles discussing emerging materials and their properties covered photonic carbon dots (Professor Chan Beum Park, MSE), single-atom and ensemble catalysts (Professor Hyunjoo Lee, CBE), and metal/metal oxide electrocatalysts (Professor Sung-Yoon Chung, MSE). Review articles discussing materials processing covered 2D layered materials synthesis based on interlayer engineering (Professor Kibum Kang, MSE), eco-friendly methods for solar cell production (Professor Bumjoon J. Kim, CBE), an ex-solution process for the synthesis of highly stable catalysts (Professor WooChul Jung, MSE), and 3D light-patterning synthesis of ordered nanostructures (Professor Seokwoo Jeon, MSE, and Professor Dongchan Jang, NQE). Review articles discussing advanced analysis techniques covered operando materials analyses (Professor Jeong Yeong Park, Chem), graphene liquid cell transmission electron microscopy (Professor Jong Min Yuk, MSE), and multiscale modeling and visualization of materials systems (Professor Seungbum Hong, MSE). Review articles discussing practical state-of-the-art devices covered chemiresistive hydrogen sensors (Professor Il-Doo Kim, MSE), patient-friendly diagnostics and implantable treatment devices (Professor Steve Park, MSE), triboelectric nanogenerators (Professor Yang-Kyu Choi, EE), and next-generation lithium-air batteries (Professor Hye Ryung Byon, Chem, and Professor Il-Doo Kim, MSE). In addition to Professor Il-Doo Kim, post-doctoral researcher Dr. Jaewan Ahn from the KAIST Applied Science Research Institute, Dean of the College of Engineering at KAIST Professor Choongsik Bae, and ACS Nano Editor-in-Chief Professor Paul S. Weiss from the University of California, Los Angeles also contributed to the publication of this ACS Nano special virtual issue. The issue can be viewed and downloaded from the ACS Nano website at https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c01101. Image credit: KAIST Image usage restrictions: News organizations may use or redistribute this image,with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. Publication: Ahn, J., et al. (2021) Celebrating 50 Years of KAIST: Collective Intelligence and Innovation for Confronting Contemporary Issues. ACS Nano 15(3): 1895-1907. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c01101 Profile: Il-Doo Kim, Ph.D Chair Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://advnano.kaist.ac.kr Advanced Nanomaterials and Energy Lab. Department of Materials Science and Engineering Membrane Innovation Center for Anti-Virus and Air-Quality Control https://kaist.ac.kr/ Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
Professor Bumjoon Kim Named Scientist of the Month
Professor Bumjoon Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering won January’s Scientist of the Month Award presented by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) on January 6. Professor Kim also received 10 million won in prize money. Professor Kim was recognized for his research in the field of fuel cells. Since the first paper on fuel cells was published in 1839 by the German chemist Friedrich Schonbein, there has been an increase in the number of fields in which fuel cells are used, including national defense, aerospace engineering, and autonomous vehicles. Professor Kim developed carbonized block copolymer particles with high durability and a high-performance fuel cell. Block copolymers are two different polymers cross-linked into a chain structure. Various nanostructures can be made effectively by using the attractive and repulsive forces between the chains. Professor Kim used the membrane emulsification technique, employing a high-performance separation membrane to develop a platform that makes the mass production of highly durable carbonized particles possible, which he then used to develop high-performance energy devices like fuel cells. The carbonized particles designed by Professor Kim and his research team were used to create the world’s more durable fuel cells that boast outstanding performance while using only five percent of the costly platinum needed for existing commercialized products. The team’s research results were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Energy Environmental Science in May and July of last year. “We have developed a fuel cell that ticks all the boxes including performance, durability, and cost,” said Professor Kim. “Related techniques will not be limited to fuel cells, but could also be applied to the development of various energy devices like solar cells and secondary cells,” he added. (END)
Researchers Control Multiple Wavelengths of Light from a Single Source
KAIST researchers have synthesized a collection of nanoparticles, known as carbon dots, capable of emitting multiple wavelengths of light from a single particle. Additionally, the team discovered that the dispersion of the carbon dots, or the interparticle distance between each dot, influences the properties of the light the carbon dots emit. The discovery will allow researchers to understand how to control these carbon dots and create new, environmentally responsible displays, lighting, and sensing technology. Research into nanoparticles capable of emitting light, such as quantum dots, has been an active area of interest for the last decade and a half. These particles, or phosphors, are nanoparticles made out of various materials that are capable of emitting light at specific wavelengths by leveraging quantum mechanical properties of the materials. This provides new ways to develop lighting and display solutions as well as more precise detection and sensing in instruments. As technology becomes smaller and more sophisticated, the usage of fluorescent nanoparticles has seen a dramatic increase in many applications due to the purity of the colors emitting from the dots as well as their tunability to meet desired optical properties. Carbon dots, a type of fluorescent nanoparticles, have seen an increase in interest from researchers as a candidate to replace non-carbon dots, the construction of which requires heavy metals that are toxic to the environment. Since they are made up of mostly carbon, the low toxicity is an extremely attractive quality when coupled with the tunability of their inherent optical properties. Another striking feature of carbon dots is their capability to emit multiple wavelengths of light from a single nanoparticle. This multi-wavelength emission can be stimulated under a single excitation source, enabling the simple and robust generation of white light from a single particle by emitting multiple wavelengths simultaneously. Carbon dots also exhibit a concentration-dependent photoluminescence. In other words, the distance between individual carbon dots affects the light that the carbon dots subsequently emit under an excitation source. These combined properties make carbon dots a unique source that will result in extremely accurate detection and sensing. This concentration-dependency, however, had not been fully understood. In order to fully utilize the capabilities of carbon dots, the mechanisms that govern the seemingly variable optical properties must first be uncovered. It was previously theorized that the concentration-dependency of carbon dots was due to a hydrogen bonding effect. Now, a KAIST research team, led by Professor Do Hyun Kim of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has posited and demonstrated that the dual-color-emissiveness is instead due to the interparticle distances between each carbon dot. This study was made available online in June 2020 ahead of final publication in the 36th Issue of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics on September 28, 2020. First author of the paper, PhD candidate Hyo Jeong Yoo, along with Professor Kim and researcher Byeong Eun Kwak, examined how the relative light intensity of the red and blue colors changed when varying the interparticle distances, or concentration, of the carbon dots. They found that as the concentration was adjusted, the light emitted from the carbon dots would transform. By varying the concentration, the team was able to control the relative intensity of the colors, as well as emit them simultaneously to generate a white light from a single source (See Figure). “The concentration-dependence of the photoluminescence of carbon dots on the change of the emissive origins for different interparticle distances has been overlooked in previous research. With the analysis of the dual-color-emission phenomenon of carbon dots, we believe that this result may provide a new perspective to investigate their photoluminescence mechanism,” Yoo explained. The newly analyzed ability to control the photoluminescence of carbon dots will likely be heavily utilized in the continued development of solid-state lighting applications and sensing. Publication: Yoo, H. J., Kwak, B. E., and Kim. D. H. (2020) Interparticle distance as a key factor for controlling the dual-emission properties of carbon dots. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Issue 36, Pages 20227-20237. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1039/d0cp02120b Profile: Do Hyun Kim, Sc.D. Professor email@example.com http://procal.kaist.ac.kr/ Process Analysis Laboratory Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering https://www.kaist.ac.kr Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
A New Strategy for Early Evaluations of CO2 Utilization Technologies
- A three-step evaluation procedure based on technology readiness levels helps find the most efficient technology before allocating R&D manpower and investments in CO2 utilization technologies. - Researchers presented a unified framework for early-stage evaluations of a variety of emerging CO2 utilization (CU) technologies. The three-step procedure allows a large number of potential CU technologies to be screened in order to identify the most promising ones, including those at low level of technical maturity, before allocating R&D manpower and investments. When evaluating new technology, various aspects of the new technology should be considered. Its feasibility, efficiency, economic competitiveness, and environmental friendliness are crucial, and its level of technical maturity is also an important component for further consideration. However, most technology evaluation procedures are data-driven, and the amount of reliable data in the early stages of technology development has been often limited. A research team led by Professor Jay Hyung Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST proposed a new procedure for evaluating the early development stages of emerging CU technologies which are applicable at various technology readiness levels (TRLs). The procedure obtains performance indicators via primary data preparation, secondary data calculation, and performance indicator calculation, and the lead author of the study Dr. Kosan Roh and his colleagues presented a number of databases, methods, and computer-aided tools that can effectively facilitate the procedure. The research team demonstrated the procedure through four case studies involving novel CU technologies of different types and at various TRLs. They confirmed the electrochemical CO2 reduction for the production of ten chemicals, the co-electrolysis of CO2 and water for ethylene production, the direct oxidation of CO2 -based methanol for oxymethylene dimethyl production, and the microalgal biomass co-firing for power generation. The expected range of the performance indicators for low TRL technologies is broader than that for high TRL technologies, however, it is not the case for high TRL technologies as they are already at an optimized state. The research team believes that low TRL technologies will be significantly improved through future R&D until they are commercialized. “We plan to develop a systematic approach for such a comparison to help avoid misguided decision-making,” Professor Lee explained. Professor Lee added, “This procedure allows us to conduct a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of new technology. On top of that, it helps make efficient and reliable assessment possible.” The research team collaborated with Professor Alexander Mitsos, Professor André Bardow, and Professor Matthias Wessling at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Their findings were reported in Green Chemistry on May 21. This work was supported by the Korea Carbon Capture and Sequestration R&D Center (KCRC). Publications: Roh, K., et al. (2020) ‘Early-stage evaluation of emerging CO2 utilization technologies at low technology readiness levels’ Green Chemistry. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1039/c9gc04440j Profile: Jay Hyung Lee, Ph.D. Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://lense.kaist.ac.kr/ Laboratory for Energy System Engineering (LENSE) Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering KAIST https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
The 10th KINC Fusion Research Awardees
The KAIST Institute for NanoCentury (KINC) recognized three distinguished researchers whose convergence studies made significant impacts. The KINC presented the 10th KINC Fusion Research Awards during a ceremony that took place at KAIST’s main campus in Daejeon on May 19. This year’s ‘best’ convergence research award went to a joint research group led by Professor Hee Tak Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Professor Sang Ouk Kim from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Their research, featured in the December 27 issue of Advanced Materials as a front cover article last year, introduced the world’s first high-energy efficiency, membraneless, flowless, zinc-bromine battery. This study, in which research professor Gyoung Hwa Jeong, postdoctoral researcher Yearin Byun, and PhD candidate Ju-Hyuck Lee took part as co-lead authors, is deemed as an example of a best practice in convergence research in which two groups’ respective expertise in the fields of carbon materials and electrochemical analysis created a synergistic effect. Professor Bumjoon Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering was also recognized for having published the most interdisciplinary research papers on polymer electronics and nanomaterials at home and abroad. Professor Hee-Tae Jung, the Director of KINC and the host of the KINC Fusion Research Awards, said, “The KINC is happy to announce the 10th awardees in nano-fusion research this year. Since convergence is crucial for making revolutionary changes, the importance of convergence studies should be recognized. Our institute will spare no effort to create a research environment suitable for convergence studies, which will be crucial for making a significant difference.” The KINC was established in June 2006 under the KAIST Institute with the mission of facilitating convergence studies by tearing down boarders among departments and carrying out interdisciplinary joint research. Currently, the institute is comprised of approximately 90 professors from 13 departments. It aims to become a hub of university institutes for nano-fusion research. (END)
What Fuels a “Domino Effect” in Cancer Drug Resistance?
KAIST researchers have identified mechanisms that relay prior acquired resistance to the first-line chemotherapy to the second-line targeted therapy, fueling a “domino effect” in cancer drug resistance. Their study featured in the February 7 edition of Science Advances suggests a new strategy for improving the second-line setting of cancer treatment for patients who showed resistance to anti-cancer drugs. Resistance to cancer drugs is often managed in the clinic by chemotherapy and targeted therapy. Unlike chemotherapy that works by repressing fast-proliferating cells, targeted therapy blocks a single oncogenic pathway to halt tumor growth. In many cases, targeted therapy is engaged as a maintenance therapy or employed in the second-line after front-line chemotherapy. A team of researchers led by Professor Yoosik Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the KAIST Institute for Health Science and Technology (KIHST) has discovered an unexpected resistance signature that occurs between chemotherapy and targeted therapy. The team further identified a set of integrated mechanisms that promotes this kind of sequential therapy resistance. “There have been multiple clinical accounts reflecting that targeted therapies tend to be least successful in patients who have exhausted all standard treatments,” said the first author of the paper Mark Borris D. Aldonza. He continued, “These accounts ignited our hypothesis that failed responses to some chemotherapies might speed up the evolution of resistance to other drugs, particularly those with specific targets.” Aldonza and his colleagues extracted large amounts of drug-resistance information from the open-source database the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer (GDSC), which contains thousands of drug response data entries from various human cancer cell lines. Their big data analysis revealed that cancer cell lines resistant to chemotherapies classified as anti-mitotic drugs (AMDs), toxins that inhibit overacting cell division, are also resistant to a class of targeted therapies called epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs). In all of the cancer types analyzed, more than 84 percent of those resistant to AMDs, representatively ‘paclitaxel’, were also resistant to at least nine EGFR-TKIs. In lung, pancreatic, and breast cancers where paclitaxel is often used as a first-line, standard-of-care regimen, greater than 92 percent showed resistance to EGFR-TKIs. Professor Kim said, “It is surprising to see that such collateral resistance can occur specifically between two chemically different classes of drugs.” To figure out how failed responses to paclitaxel leads to resistance to EGFR-TKIs, the team validated co-resistance signatures that they found in the database by generating and analyzing a subset of slow-doubling, paclitaxel-resistant cancer models called ‘persisters’. The results demonstrated that paclitaxel-resistant cancers remodel their stress response by first becoming more stem cell-like, evolving the ability to self-renew to adapt to more stressful conditions like drug exposures. More surprisingly, when the researchers characterized the metabolic state of the cells, EGFR-TKI persisters derived from paclitaxel-resistant cancer cells showed high dependencies to energy-producing processes such as glycolysis and glutaminolysis. “We found that, without an energy stimulus like glucose, these cells transform to becoming more senescent, a characteristic of cells that have arrested cell division. However, this senescence is controlled by stem cell factors, which the paclitaxel-resistant cancers use to escape from this arrested state given a favorable condition to re-grow,” said Aldonza. Professor Kim explained, “Before this research, there was no reason to expect that acquiring the cancer stem cell phenotype that dramatically leads to a cascade of changes in cellular states affecting metabolism and cell death is linked with drug-specific sequential resistance between two classes of therapies.” He added, “The expansion of our work to other working models of drug resistance in a much more clinically-relevant setting, perhaps in clinical trials, will take on increasing importance, as sequential treatment strategies will continue to be adapted to various forms of anti-cancer therapy regimens.” This study was supported by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016R1C1B2009886), and the KAIST Future Systems Healthcare Project (KAISTHEALTHCARE42) funded by the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT). Undergraduate student Aldonza participated in this research project and presented the findings as the lead author as part of the Undergraduate Research Participation (URP) Program at KAIST. < Figure 1. Schematic overview of the study. > < Figure 2. Big data analysis revealing co-resistance signatures between classes of anti-cancer drugs. > Publication: Aldonza et al. (2020) Prior acquired resistance to paclitaxel relays diverse EGFR-targeted therapy persistence mechanisms. Science Advances, Vol. 6, No. 6, eaav7416. Available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aav7416 Profile: Prof. Yoosik Kim, MA, PhD email@example.com https://qcbio.kaist.ac.kr/ Assistant Professor Bio Network Analysis Laboratory Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea Profile: Mark Borris D. Aldonza firstname.lastname@example.org Undergraduate Student Department of Biological Sciences Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
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