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Breastfeeding Helps Prevent Mothers from Developing Diabetes after Childbirth
A team of South Korean researchers found that lactation can lower the incidence and reduce the risk of maternal postpartum diabetes. The researchers identified that lactation increases the mass and function of pancreatic beta cells through serotonin production. The team suggested that sustained improvements in pancreatic beta cells, which can last for years even after the cessation of lactation, improve mothers’ metabolic health in addition to providing health benefits for infants. Pregnancy imposes a substantial metabolic burden on women through weight gain and increased insulin resistance. Various other factors, including a history of gestational diabetes, maternal age, and obesity, further affect women’s risk of progressing to diabetes after delivery, and the risk of postpartum diabetes increases more in women who have had gestational diabetes and/or repeated deliveries. Diabetes-related complications include damage to blood vessels, which can lead to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke, and problems with the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and many more. Since diabetes can pose a serious threat to mothers’ metabolic health, the management of maternal metabolic risk factors is important, especially in the peripartum period. Previous epidemiological studies have reported that lactation reduces the risk of postpartum diabetes, but the mechanisms underlying this benefit have remained elusive. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine on April 29, explains the biology underpinning this observation on the beneficial effects of lactation. Professor Hail Kim from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering at KAIST led and jointly conducted the study in conjunction with researchers from the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) and Chungnam National University (CNU) in Korea, and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the US. In their study, the team observed that the milk-secreting hormone ‘prolactin’ in lactating mothers not only promotes milk production, but also plays a major role in stimulating insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells that regulate blood glucose in the body. The researchers also found that ‘serotonin’, known as a chemical that contributes to wellbeing and happiness, is produced in pancreatic beta cells during lactation. Serotonin in pancreatic beta cells act as an antioxidant and reduce oxidative stress, making mothers’ beta cells healthier. Serotonin also induces the proliferation of beta cells, thereby increasing the beta cell mass and helping maintain proper glucose levels. The research team conducted follow-up examinations on a total of 174 postpartum women, 85 lactated and 99 non-lactated, at two months postpartum and annually thereafter for at least three years. The results demonstrated that mothers who had undergone lactation improved pancreatic beta cell mass and function, and showed improved glucose homeostasis with approximately 20mg/dL lower glucose levels, thereby reducing the risk of postpartum diabetes in women. Surprisingly, this beneficial effect was maintained after the cessation of lactation, for more than three years after delivery. Professor Kim said, “We are happy to prove that lactation benefits female metabolic health by improving beta cell mass and function as well as glycemic control.” “Our future studies on the modulation of the molecular serotonergic pathway in accordance with the management of maternal metabolic risk factors may lead to new therapeutics to help prevent mothers from developing metabolic disorders,” he added. This work was supported by grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the National Research Council of Science and Technology (NST) of Korea, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, and the Health Fellowship Foundation. Image credit: Professor Hail Kim, 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: Moon, J. H et al. (2020) ‘Lactation improves pancreatic β cell mass and function through serotonin production.’ Science Translational Medicine, 12, eaay0455. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay0455 Profile: Hail Kim, MD, PhD email@example.com Associate Professor Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering (GSMSE) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Profile: Hak Chul Jang, MD, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org Professor Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) President Korean Diabetes Association Profile: Joon Ho Moon, MD, PhD email@example.com Clinical Fellow Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism SNUBH Profile: Hyeongseok Kim, MD, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Professor Chungnam National University (CNU) Profile: Professor Michael S. German, MD Michael.German@ucsf.edu Professor Diabetes Center University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) (END)
Blood-Based Multiplexed Diagnostic Sensor Helps to Accurately Detect Alzheimer’s Disease
A research team at KAIST reported clinically accurate multiplexed electrical biosensor for detecting Alzheimer’s disease by measuring its core biomarkers using densely aligned carbon nanotubes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder, affecting one in ten aged over 65 years. Early diagnosis can reduce the risk of suffering the disease by one-third, according to recent reports. However, its early diagnosis remains challenging due to the low accuracy but high cost of diagnosis. Research team led by Professors Chan Beum Park and Steve Park described an ultrasensitive detection of multiple Alzheimer's disease core biomarker in human plasma. The team have designed the sensor array by employing a densely aligned single-walled carbon nanotube thin films as a transducer. The representative biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease are beta-amyloid42, beta-amyloid40, total tau protein, phosphorylated tau protein and the concentrations of these biomarkers in human plasma are directly correlated with the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. The research team developed a highly sensitive resistive biosensor based on densely aligned carbon nanotubes fabricated by Langmuir-Blodgett method with a low manufacturing cost. Aligned carbon nanotubes with high density minimizes the tube-to-tube junction resistance compared with randomly distributed carbon nanotubes, which leads to the improvement of sensor sensitivity. To be more specific, this resistive sensor with densely aligned carbon nanotubes exhibits a sensitivity over 100 times higher than that of conventional carbon nanotube-based biosensors. By measuring the concentrations of four Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers simultaneously Alzheimer patients can be discriminated from health controls with an average sensitivity of 90.0%, a selectivity of 90.0% and an average accuracy of 88.6%. This work, titled “Clinically accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease via multiplexed sensing of core biomarkers in human plasma”, were published in Nature Communications on January 8th 2020. The authors include PhD candidate Kayoung Kim and MS candidate Min-Ji Kim. Professor Steve Park said, “This study was conducted on patients who are already confirmed with Alzheimer’s Disease. For further use in practical setting, it is necessary to test the patients with mild cognitive impairment.” He also emphasized that, “It is essential to establish a nationwide infrastructure, such as mild cognitive impairment cohort study and a dementia cohort study. This would enable the establishment of world-wide research network, and will help various private and public institutions.” This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT, Human Resource Bank of Chungnam National University Hospital and Chungbuk National University Hospital. < A schematic diagram of a high-density aligned carbon nanotube-based resistive sensor that distinguishes patients with Alzheimer’s Disease by measuring the concentration of four biomarkers in the blood. > Profile: Professor Steve Park email@example.com Department of Materials Science and Engineering http://steveparklab.kaist.ac.kr/ KAIST Profile: Professor Chan Beum Park parkcb at kaist.ac.kr Department of Materials Science and Engineering http://biomaterials.kaist.ac.kr/ KAIST
A New Spin Current Generating Material Developed
(Professor Park(left) and Ph.D. candidate Kim) Magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) is a non-volatile device made of thin magnetic film that can maintain information without an external power supply, in contrast to conventional silicon-based semiconductor memory. It also has the potential for high-density integration and high-speed operation. The operation of MRAM involves the control of the magnetization direction by exerting spin current-induced torque on a magnetic material. Spin current is generated using electricity in conventional MRAM, but this study developed materials technology that generates spin current using heat. A KAIST research team led by Professor Byong-Guk Park of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering developed a material that generates spin current from heat, which can be utilized for a new operation principle for MRAM. There have been theoretical reports on the spin Nernst effect, the phenomenon of the thermal generation of spin current, but is yet to have been experimentally proven due to technological limitations. However, the research team introduced a spin Nernst magnetoresistance measurement method using tungsten (W) and platinum (Pt) with high spin orbit coupling which allows for the experimental identification of the spin Nernst effect. They also demonstrated that the efficiency of spin current generation from heat is similar to that of spin current generated from electricity. Professor Park said, “This research has great significance in experimentally proving spin current generation from heat, a new physical phenomenon. We aim to develop the technology as a new operational method for MRAM through further research. This can lower power consumption, and is expected to contribute to the advancement of electronics requiring low power requirement such as wearable, mobile, and IOT devices”. This research was conducted as a joint research project with Professor Kyung-Jin Lee at Korea University and Professor Jong-Ryul Jeong at Chungnam National University. It was published in Nature Communications online on November 9 titled “Observation of transverse spin Nernst magnetoresistance induced by thermal spin current in ferromagnet/non-magnet bilayers.” Ph.D. candidate Dong-Jun Kim at KAIST is the first author. This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT. (Schematic diagram of spin Nernst magnetoresistance) (Research result of new spin current generating materials)
Professor Shin Honored Posthumously for Iridescent Microparticles
(The Late Professor Joong-Hoon Shin (left) and Professor Shin-Hyun Kim) A research team co-led by Professor Shin-Hyun Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Professor Jong-Ryul Jeong from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Chungnam National University developed iridescent microparticles with a structural color gradient. The research team posthumously dedicated their research to a renowned professor in the field of nanophotonics, the late Professor Joong-Hoon Shin of the Graduate School of Nanoscience and Technology at KAIST. He passed away suddenly in a car accident last September. The iridescent microparticles, which allow on-demand control over structural color, will be key components for next-generation reflection-mode displays with clear color realization even in direct sunlight. Materials such as opals, Morpho butterfly wings, and peacock feathers all display beautiful colors without pigment, using regularly-spaced nanostructures. Regularly-spaced nanostructures render color, by selectively reflecting the light of a particular wave through light interference. As such, materials that possess periodic modulation of refractive index at subwavelength scale are referred to as photonic crystals. In general, photonic crystals are only able to display a single color, so limitations exist when attempting to apply them to reflection-mode displays which call for multiple structural colors. The research team addressed the issue using inspiration from snowflakes stacking in the winter. When snow falls on the surface of a round-shaped structure, the thickness of the snow stacking differs depending on the orientation. Based on this observation, the research team created photonic microparticles with a structural color gradient by depositing two different materials on spherical microparticles. When some material is deposited on the surface of a sphere, the material on the top is thickest and becomes thinner on the sides. The team alternately deposited titania and silica on the spherical microparticles to form periodic modulation of the refractive index. The thickness of the alternating photonic layers is reduced along the angle from the top, which yields a structural color gradient. Consequently, the microparticles reflect long-wavelength red light from the top of the sphere and short-wavelength blue light from the side of the sphere. Any color of the visible spectrum can be selected in between the top and side depending on the orientation of the microparticles. The research team used an external magnetic field as a way to control the orientation of the photonic microparticles and the structural colors. As magnetic iron layer was deposited underneath the alternating photonic layer, it was possible to freely control the orientation of the microparticles using a magnet, thereby allowing control of the color seen by the users. KAIST doctoral candidate Seung Yeol Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is the first author of this research, with support from the Midcareer Researcher Program of the National Research Foundation and funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning (MSIP). This research was published in the online edition of Advanced Materials on February 6, 2017. Figure1: Sets of an OM image of photonic Janus microspheres and an SEM image showing a cross-section of the photonic layers. Figure 2: A series of schematics and OM images showing the color change depending on the orientation angle of the photonic Janus microsphere.
KAIST International Food Festival
The KAIST International Students Association (KISA) hosted the 2015 International Food Festival in front of Creative Learning Building, KAIST, on May 22, 2015. This was the 11th International Food Festival for KAIST where international students introduced food from their home countries to strengthen cultural exchanges with Korean students. This year’s festival was the biggest international festival in Daejeon in which around 500 students and staff from KAIST, Chungnam National University (CNU), the University of Science & Technology (UST), and the public participated. KAIST’s President Steve Kang opened the festival with a welcoming speech, followed by congratulatory speeches by CNU President Sang-Chul Jung and UST President Un-Woo Lee. The first section of the event was the food festival where around 40 kinds of food from ten countries including Kenya, Kazakhstan, India, and Turkey were presented. Students from each country offered cooking demonstrations in booths, and participants purchased the food. Cheryl Wanderi, a Kenyan student who recently received a Master’s degree from KAIST’s Department of Bio and Brain Engineering last February said, “I am delighted to introduce Mandazi, a Kenyan donut, to not only Korean students but also other international students.” The second half of the event consisted of cultural performances from different countries. There were eight teams performing including an Indonesian traditional Saman dance team, a Kazakh group that performed on traditional instruments, and an Azerbaijani K-POP dance team. Sung-Hyon Myaeng, the Associate Vice President of KAIST’s International Office, said, “Despite their busy lives, students from three different universities planned this event to get to know each other. I hope international students and Korean students can come together and enjoy the festival.” Edrick Kwek, the President of KISA, said, “This food festival is an event showing the cultural diversity of KAIST in the most splendid way.”
MOU among KAIST, Chungnam National University, and Chungnam National University Hospital for "Fusion Medical Science Research"
KAIST, Chungnam National University, and Chungnam National University Hospital signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with attendees including KAIST President Steve Kang, Chungnam National University President Sang-Chul Jung, and the President of Chungnam National University Hospital, Bong-Ok Kim on June 3 at KAIST. With the MOU, KAIST expects to continue the development of outstanding individuals in the medical science field, advance global research in biosciences, and establish Chungnam National University Hospital and KAIST Fusion Medical School in Sejong City. The details of the MOU include educational collaborations such as course development and a combined registration system, cooperation on basic and clinical research, shared use of research facilities and equipment, and active collaboration for professional personnel for education, research, and treatment. The three parties agreed to form a joint council to pursue the specifications. President Steve Kang said, “Medical science and medical engineering, which can elevate the quality of human life, are the key disciplines which universities are targeting for the future. KAIST will prepare for Korea’s future by developing elite professionals and performing world-renowned research in the merged fields of science and medicine.”
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