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KAIST holds its first ‘KAIST Tech Fair’ in New York, USA
< Photo 1. 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York > KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced on the 11th that it will hold the ‘2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York’ at the Kimmel Center at New York University in Manhattan, USA, on the 22nd of this month. It is an event designed to be the starting point for KAIST to expand its startup ecosystem into the global stage, and it is to attract investments and secure global customers in New York by demonstrating the technological value of KAIST startup companies directly at location. < Photo 2. President Kwang Hyung Lee at the 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York > KAIST has been holding briefing sessions for technology transfer in Korea every year since 2018, and this year is the first time to hold a tech fair overseas for global companies. KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation (Director Sung-Yool Choi) has prepared for this event over the past six months with the Korea International Trade Association (hereinafter KITA, CEO Christopher Koo) to survey customer base and investment companies to conduct market analysis. Among the companies founded with the technologies developed by the faculty and students of KAIST and their partners, 7 companies were selected to be matched with companies overseas that expressed interests in these technologies. Global multinational companies in the fields of IT, artificial intelligence, environment, logistics, distribution, and retail are participating as demand agencies and are testing the marketability of the start-up's technology as of September. Daim Research, founded by Professor Young Jae Jang of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is a company specializing in smart factory automation solutions and is knocking on the door of the global market with a platform technology optimized for automated logistics systems. < Photo 3. Presentation by Professor Young Jae Jang for DAIM Research > It is a ‘collaborative intelligence’ solution that maximizes work productivity by having a number of robots used in industrial settings collaborate with one another. The strength of their solution is that logistics robots equipped with AI reinforced learning technology can respond to processes and environmental changes on their own, minimizing maintenance costs and the system can achieve excellent performance even with a small amount of data when it is combined with the digital twin technology the company has developed on its own. A student startup, ‘Aniai’, is entering the US market, the home of hamburgers, with hamburger patty automation equipments and solutions. This is a robot kitchen startup founded by its CEO Gunpil Hwang, a graduate of KAIST’s School of Electrical Engineering which gathered together the experts in the fields of robot control, design, and artificial intelligence and cognitive technology to develop technology to automatically cook hamburger patties. At the touch of a button, both sides of the patty are cooked simultaneously for consistent taste and quality according to the set condition. Since it can cook about 200 dishes in an hour, it is attracting attention as a technology that can not only solve manpower shortages but also accelerate the digital transformation of the restaurant industry. Also, at the tech fair to be held at the Kimmel Center of New York University on the 22nd, the following startups who are currently under market verification in the U.S. will be participating: ▴'TheWaveTalk', which developed a water quality management system that can measure external substances and metal ions by transferring original technology from KAIST; ▴‘VIRNECT’, which helps workers improve their skills by remotely managing industrial sites using XR*; ▴‘Datumo’, a solution that helps process and analyze artificial intelligence big data, ▴‘VESSL AI’, the provider of a solution to eliminate the overhead** of machine learning systems; and ▴ ‘DolbomDream’, which developed an inflatable vest that helps the psychological stability of people with developmental disabilities. * XR (eXtended Reality): Ultra-realistic technology that enhances immersion by utilizing augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality technologies ** Overhead: Additional time required for stable processing of the program In addition, two companies (Plasmapp and NotaAI) that are participating in the D-Unicorn program with the support of the Daejeon City and two companies (Enget and ILIAS Biologics) that are receiving support from the Scale Up Tips of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, three companies (WiPowerOne, IDK Lab, and Artificial Photosynthesis Lab) that are continuing to realize the sustainable development goals for a total of 14 KAIST startups, will hold a corporate information session with about 100 invited guests from global companies and venture capital. < Photo 4. Presentation for AP Lab > Prior to this event, participating startups will be visiting the New York Economic Development Corporation and large law firms to receive advice on U.S. government support programs and on their attemps to enter the U.S. market. In addition, the participating companies plan to visit a startup support investment institution pursuing sustainable development goals and the Leslie eLab, New York University's one-stop startup support space, to lay the foundation for KAIST's leap forward in global technology commercialization. < Photo 5. Sung-Yool Choi, the Director of KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation (left) at the 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York with the key participants > Sung-Yool Choi, the Director of KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation, said, “KAIST prepared this event to realize its vision of being a leading university in creating global value.” He added, “We hope that our startups founded with KAIST technology would successfully completed market verification to be successful in securing global demands and in attracting investments for their endeavors.”
KAIST builds a high-resolution 3D holographic sensor using a single mask
Holographic cameras can provide more realistic images than ordinary cameras thanks to their ability to acquire 3D information about objects. However, existing holographic cameras use interferometers that measure the wavelength and refraction of light through the interference of light waves, which makes them complex and sensitive to their surrounding environment. On August 23, a KAIST research team led by Professor YongKeun Park from the Department of Physics announced a new leap forward in 3D holographic imaging sensor technology. The team proposed an innovative holographic camera technology that does not use complex interferometry. Instead, it uses a mask to precisely measure the phase information of light and reconstruct the 3D information of an object with higher accuracy. < Figure 1. Structure and principle of the proposed holographic camera. The amplitude and phase information of light scattered from a holographic camera can be measured. > The team used a mask that fulfills certain mathematical conditions and incorporated it into an ordinary camera, and the light scattered from a laser is measured through the mask and analyzed using a computer. This does not require a complex interferometer and allows the phase information of light to be collected through a simplified optical system. With this technique, the mask that is placed between the two lenses and behind an object plays an important role. The mask selectively filters specific parts of light,, and the intensity of the light passing through the lens can be measured using an ordinary commercial camera. This technique combines the image data received from the camera with the unique pattern received from the mask and reconstructs an object’s precise 3D information using an algorithm. This method allows a high-resolution 3D image of an object to be captured in any position. In practical situations, one can construct a laser-based holographic 3D image sensor by adding a mask with a simple design to a general image sensor. This makes the design and construction of the optical system much easier. In particular, this novel technology can capture high-resolution holographic images of objects moving at high speeds, which widens its potential field of application. < Figure 2. A moving doll captured by a conventional camera and the proposed holographic camera. When taking a picture without focusing on the object, only a blurred image of the doll can be obtained from a general camera, but the proposed holographic camera can restore the blurred image of the doll into a clear image. > The results of this study, conducted by Dr. Jeonghun Oh from the KAIST Department of Physics as the first author, were published in Nature Communications on August 12 under the title, "Non-interferometric stand-alone single-shot holographic camera using reciprocal diffractive imaging". Dr. Oh said, “The holographic camera module we are suggesting can be built by adding a filter to an ordinary camera, which would allow even non-experts to handle it easily in everyday life if it were to be commercialized.” He added, “In particular, it is a promising candidate with the potential to replace existing remote sensing technologies.” This research was supported by the National Research Foundation’s Leader Research Project, the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT’s Core Hologram Technology Support Project, and the Nano and Material Technology Development Project.
KAIST Research Team Develops World’s First Humanoid Pilot, PIBOT
In the Spring of last year, the legendary, fictional pilot “Maverick” flew his plane in the film “Top Gun: Maverick” that drew crowds to theatres around the world. This year, the appearance of a humanoid pilot, PIBOT, has stolen the spotlight at KAIST. < Photo 1. Humanoid pilot robot, PIBOT > A KAIST research team has developed a humanoid robot that can understand manuals written in natural language and fly a plane on its own. The team also announced their plans to commercialize the humanoid pilot. < Photo 2. PIBOT on flight simulator (view from above) > The project was led by KAIST Professor David Hyunchul Shim, and was conducted as a joint research project with Professors Jaegul Choo, Kuk-Jin Yoon, and Min Jun Kim. The study was supported by Future Challenge Funding under the project title, “Development of Human-like Pilot Robot based on Natural Language Processing”. The team utilized AI and robotics technologies, and demonstrated that the humanoid could sit itself in a real cockpit and operate the various pieces of equipment without modifying any part of the aircraft. This is a fundamental difference that distinguishes this technology from existing autopilot functions or unmanned aircrafts. < Photo 3. PIBOT operating a flight simulator (side) > The KAIST team’s humanoid pilot is still under development but it can already remember Jeppeson charts from all around the world, which is impossible for human pilots to do, and fly without error. In particular, it can make use of recent ChatGPT technology to remember the full Quick Reference Handbook (QRF) and respond immediately to various situations, as well as calculate safe routes in real time based on the flight status of the aircraft, with emergency response times quicker than human pilots. Furthermore, while existing robots usually carry out repeated motions in a fixed position, PIBOT can analyze the state of the cockpit as well as the situation outside the aircraft using an embedded camera. PIBOT can accurately control the various switches in the cockpit and, using high-precision control technology, it can accurately control its robotic arms and hands even during harsh turbulence. < Photo 4. PIBOT on-board KLA-100, Korea’s first light aircraft > The humanoid pilot is currently capable of carrying out all operations from starting the aircraft to taxiing, takeoff and landing, cruising, and cycling using a flight control simulator. The research team plans to use the humanoid pilot to fly a real-life light aircraft to verify its abilities. Prof. Shim explained, “Humanoid pilot robots do not require the modification of existing aircrafts and can be applied immediately to automated flights. They are therefore highly applicable and practical. We expect them to be applied into various other vehicles like cars and military trucks since they can control a wide range of equipment. They will particularly be particularly helpful in situations where military resources are severely depleted.” This research was supported by Future Challenge Funding (total: 5.7 bn KRW) from the Agency for Defense Development. The project started in 2022 as a joint research project by Prof. David Hyunchul Shim (chief of research) from the KAIST School of Electrical Engineering (EE), Prof. Jaegul Choo from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST, Prof. Kuk-Jin Yoon from the KAIST Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Prof. Min Jun Kim from the KAIST School of EE. The project is to be completed by 2026 and the involved researchers are also considering commercialization strategies for both military and civil use.
Professor Joseph J. Lim of KAIST receives the Best System Paper Award from RSS 2023, First in Korea
- Professor Joseph J. Lim from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST and his team receive an award for the most outstanding paper in the implementation of robot systems. - Professor Lim works on AI-based perception, reasoning, and sequential decision-making to develop systems capable of intelligent decision-making, including robot learning < Photo 1. RSS2023 Best System Paper Award Presentation > The team of Professor Joseph J. Lim from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST has been honored with the 'Best System Paper Award' at "Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) 2023". The RSS conference is globally recognized as a leading event for showcasing the latest discoveries and advancements in the field of robotics. It is a venue where the greatest minds in robotics engineering and robot learning come together to share their research breakthroughs. The RSS Best System Paper Award is a prestigious honor granted to a paper that excels in presenting real-world robot system implementation and experimental results. < Photo 2. Professor Joseph J. Lim of Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST > The team led by Professor Lim, including two Master's students and an alumnus (soon to be appointed at Yonsei University), received the prestigious RSS Best System Paper Award, making it the first-ever achievement for a Korean and for a domestic institution. < Photo 3. Certificate of the Best System Paper Award presented at RSS 2023 > This award is especially meaningful considering the broader challenges in the field. Although recent progress in artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms has resulted in numerous breakthroughs in robotics, most of these achievements have been confined to relatively simple and short tasks, like walking or pick-and-place. Moreover, tasks are typically performed in simulated environments rather than dealing with more complex, long-horizon real-world tasks such as factory operations or household chores. These limitations primarily stem from the considerable challenge of acquiring data required to develop and validate learning-based AI techniques, particularly in real-world complex tasks. In light of these challenges, this paper introduced a benchmark that employs 3D printing to simplify the reproduction of furniture assembly tasks in real-world environments. Furthermore, it proposed a standard benchmark for the development and comparison of algorithms for complex and long-horizon tasks, supported by teleoperation data. Ultimately, the paper suggests a new research direction of addressing complex and long-horizon tasks and encourages diverse advancements in research by facilitating reproducible experiments in real-world environments. Professor Lim underscored the growing potential for integrating robots into daily life, driven by an aging population and an increase in single-person households. As robots become part of everyday life, testing their performance in real-world scenarios becomes increasingly crucial. He hoped this research would serve as a cornerstone for future studies in this field. The Master's students, Minho Heo and Doohyun Lee, from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST, also shared their aspirations to become global researchers in the domain of robot learning. Meanwhile, the alumnus of Professor Lim's research lab, Dr. Youngwoon Lee, is set to be appointed to the Graduate School of AI at Yonsei University and will continue pursuing research in robot learning. Paper title: Furniture Bench: Reproducible Real-World Benchmark for Long-Horizon Complex Manipulation. Robotics: Science and Systems. < Image. Conceptual Summary of the 3D Printing Technology >
A KAIST research team unveils new path for dense photonic integration
Integrated optical semiconductor (hereinafter referred to as optical semiconductor) technology is a next-generation semiconductor technology for which many researches and investments are being made worldwide because it can make complex optical systems such as LiDAR and quantum sensors and computers into a single small chip. In the existing semiconductor technology, the key was how small it was to make it in units of 5 nanometers or 2 nanometers, but increasing the degree of integration in optical semiconductor devices can be said to be a key technology that determines performance, price, and energy efficiency. KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced on the 19th that a research team led by Professor Sangsik Kim of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering discovered a new optical coupling mechanism that can increase the degree of integration of optical semiconductor devices by more than 100 times. The degree of the number of elements that can be configured per chip is called the degree of integration. However, it is very difficult to increase the degree of integration of optical semiconductor devices, because crosstalk occurs between photons between adjacent devices due to the wave nature of light. In previous studies, it was possible to reduce crosstalk of light only in specific polarizations, but in this study, the research team developed a method to increase the degree of integration even under polarization conditions, which were previously considered impossible, by discovering a new light coupling mechanism. This study, led by Professor Sangsik Kim as a corresponding author and conducted with students he taught at Texas Tech University, was published in the international journal 'Light: Science & Applications' [IF=20.257] on June 2nd. done. (Paper title: Anisotropic leaky-like perturbation with subwavelength gratings enables zero crosstalk). Professor Sangsik Kim said, "The interesting thing about this study is that it paradoxically eliminated the confusion through leaky waves (light tends to spread sideways), which was previously thought to increase the crosstalk." He went on to add, “If the optical coupling method using the leaky wave revealed in this study is applied, it will be possible to develop various optical semiconductor devices that are smaller and that has less noise.” Professor Sangsik Kim is a researcher recognized for his expertise and research in optical semiconductor integration. Through his previous research, he developed an all-dielectric metamaterial that can control the degree of light spreading laterally by patterning a semiconductor structure at a size smaller than the wavelength, and proved this through experiments to improve the degree of integration of optical semiconductors. These studies were reported in ‘Nature Communications’ (Vol. 9, Article 1893, 2018) and ‘Optica’ (Vol. 7, pp. 881-887, 2020). In recognition of these achievements, Professor Kim has received the NSF Career Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Young Scientist Award from the Association of Korean-American Scientists and Engineers. Meanwhile, this research was carried out with the support from the New Research Project of Excellence of the National Research Foundation of Korea and and the National Science Foundation of the US. < Figure 1. Illustration depicting light propagation without crosstalk in the waveguide array of the developed metamaterial-based optical semiconductor >
KAIST research team develops a forgery prevention technique using salmon DNA
The authenticity scandal that plagued the artwork “Beautiful Woman” by Kyung-ja Chun for 30 years shows how concerns about replicas can become a burden to artists, as most of them are not experts in the field of anti-counterfeiting. To solve this problem, artist-friendly physical unclonable functions (PUFs) based on optical techniques instead of electronic ones, which can be applied immediately onto artwork through brushstrokes are needed. On May 23, a KAIST research team led by Professor Dong Ki Yoon in the Department of Chemistry revealed the development of a proprietary technology for security and certification using random patterns that occur during the self-assembly of soft materials. With the development of the Internet of Things in recent years, various electronic devices and services can now be connected to the internet and carry out new innovative functions. However, counterfeiting technologies that infringe on individuals’ privacy have also entered the marketplace. The technique developed by the research team involves random and spontaneous patterns that naturally occur during the self-assembly of two different types of soft materials, which can be used in the same way as human fingerprints for non-replicable security. This is very significant in that even non-experts in the field of security can construct anti-counterfeiting systems through simple actions like drawing a picture. The team developed two unique methods. The first method uses liquid crystals. When liquid crystals become trapped in patterned substrates, they induce the symmetrical destruction of the structure and create a maze-like topology (Figure 1). The research team defined the pathways open to the right as 0 (blue), and those open to the left as 1 (red), and confirmed that the structure could be converted into a digital code composed of 0’s and 1’s that can serve as a type of fingerprint through object recognition using machine learning. This groundbreaking technique can be utilized by non-experts, as it does not require complex semiconductor patterns that are required by existing technology, and can be observed through the level of resolution of a smartphone camera. In particular, this technique can reconstruct information more easily than conventional methods that use semiconductor chips. < Figure 1. Security technology using the maze made up of magnetically-assembled structures formed on a substrate patterned with liquid crystal materials. > The second method uses DNA extracted from salmon. The DNA can be dissolved in water and applied with a brush to induce bulking instability, which forms random patterns similar to a zebra’s stripes. Here, the patterns create ridge endings and bifurcation, which are characteristics in fingerprints, and these can also be digitalized into 0’s and 1’s through machine learning. The research team applied conventional fingerprint recognition technology to this patterning technique and demonstrated its use as an artificial fingerprint. This method can be easily carried out using a brush, and the solution can be mixed into various colors and used as a new security ink. < Figure 2. Technology to produce security ink using DNA polymers extracted from salmon > This new security technology developed by the research team uses only simple organic materials and requires basic manufacturing processes, making it possible to enhance security at a low cost. In addition, users can produce patterns in the shapes and sizes they want, and even if the patterns are made in the same way, their randomness makes each individual pattern different. This provides high levels of security and gives the technique enhanced marketability. Professor Dong Ki Yoon said, “These studies have taken the randomness that naturally occurs during self-assembly to create non-replicable patterns that can act like human fingerprints.” He added, “These ideas will be the cornerstone of technology that applies the many randomities that exist in nature to security systems.” The two studies were published in the journal Advanced Materials under the titles “1Planar Spin Glass with Topologically-Protected Mazes in the Liquid Crystal Targeting for Reconfigurable Micro Security Media” and “2Paintable Physical Unclonable Function Using DNA” on May 6 and 5, respectively. Author Information: 1Geonhyeong Park, Yun-Seok Choi, S. Joon Kwon*, and Dong Ki Yoon*/ 2Soon Mo Park†, Geonhyeong Park†, Dong Ki Yoon*: †co-first authors, *corresponding author This research was funded by the Center for Multiscale Chiral Architectures and supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT-Korea Research Foundation, BRIDGE Convergent Research and Development Program, the Running Together Project, and the Samsung Future Technology Development Program. < Figure 1-1. A scene from the schematic animation of the process of Blues (0) and Reds (1) forming the PUF by exploring the maze. From "Planar Spin Glass with Topologically-Protected Mazes in the Liquid Crystal Targeting for Reconfigurable Micro Security Media" by Geonhyeong Park, Yun-Seok Choi, S. Joon Kwon, Dong Ki Yoon. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202303077 > < Figure 2-1. A schematic diagram of the formation of digital fingerprints formed using the DNA ink. From "Paintable Physical Unclonable Function Using DNA" by Soon Mo Park, Geonhyeong Park, Dong Ki Yoon. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202302135 >
Researchers finds a way to reduce the overheating of semiconductor devices
The demand to shrink the size of semiconductors coupled with the problem of the heat generated at the hot spots of the devices not being effectively dispersed has negatively affected the reliability and durability of modern devices. Existing thermal management technologies have not been up to the task. Thus, the discovery of a new way of dispersing heat by using surface waves generated on the thin metal films over the substrate is an important breakthrough. KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced that Professor Bong Jae Lee's research team in the Department of Mechanical Engineering succeeded in measuring a newly observed transference of heat induced by 'surface plasmon polariton' (SPP) in a thin metal film deposited on a substrate for the first time in the world. ☞ Surface plasmon polariton (SPP) refers to a surface wave formed on the surface of a metal as a result of strong interaction between the electromagnetic field at the interface between the dielectric and the metal and the free electrons on the metal surface and similar collectively vibrating particles. The research team utilized surface plasmon polaritons (SPP), which are surface waves generated at the metal-dielectric interface, to improve thermal diffusion in nanoscale thin metal films. Since this new heat transfer mode occurs when a thin film of metal is deposited on a substrate, it is highly usable in the device manufacturing process and has the advantage of being able to be manufactured over a large area. The research team showed that the thermal conductivity increased by about 25% due to surface waves generated over a 100-nm-thick titanium (Ti) film with a radius of about 3 cm. KAIST Professor Bong Jae Lee, who led the research, said, "The significance of this research is that a new heat transfer mode using surface waves over a thin metal film deposited on a substrate with low processing difficulty was identified for the first time in the world. It can be applied as a nanoscale heat spreader to efficiently dissipate heat near the hot spots for easily overheatable semiconductor devices.” The result has great implications for the development of high-performance semiconductor devices in the future in that it can be applied to rapidly dissipate heat on a nanoscale thin film. In particular, this new heat transfer mode identified by the research team is expected to solve the fundamental problem of thermal management in semiconductor devices as it enables even more effective heat transfer at nanoscale thickness while the thermal conductivity of the thin film usually decreases due to the boundary scattering effect. This study was published online on April 26 in 'Physical Review Letters' and was selected as an Editors' Suggestion. The research was carried out with support from the Basic Research Laboratory Support Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea. < Figure. Schematic diagram of the principle of measuring the thermal conductivity of thin Titanium (TI) films and the thermal conductivity of surface plasmon polariton measured on the Ti film >
'Jumping Genes' Found to Alter Human Colon Genomes, Offering Insights into Aging and Tumorigenesis
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and their collaborators have conducted a groundbreaking study targeting 'jumping genes' in the entire genomes of the human large intestine. Published in Nature on May 18 2023, the research unveils the surprising activity of 'Long interspersed nuclear element-1 (L1),' a type of jumping gene previously thought to be mostly dormant in human genomes. The study shows that L1 genes can become activated and disrupt genomic functions throughout an individual's lifetime, particularly in the colorectal epithelium. (Paper Title: Widespread somatic L1 retrotransposition in normal colorectal epithelium, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06046-z) With approximately 500,000 L1 jumping genes, accounting for 17% of the human genome, they have long been recognized for their contribution to the evolution of the human species by introducing 'disruptive innovation' to genome sequences. Until now, it was believed that most L1 elements had lost their ability to jump in normal tissues of modern humans. However, this study reveals that some L1 jumping genes can be widely activated in normal cells, leading to the accumulation of genomic mutations over an individual's lifetime. The rate of L1 jumping and resulting genomic changes vary among different cell types, with a notable concentration observed in aged colon epithelial cells. The study illustrates that every colonic epithelial cell experiences an L1 jumping event by the age of 40 on average. The research, led by co-first authors Chang Hyun Nam (a graduate student at KAIST) and Dr. Jeonghwan Youk (former graduate student at KAIST and assistant clinical professor at Seoul National University Hospital), involved the analysis of whole-genome sequences from 899 single cells obtained from skin (fibroblasts), blood, and colon epithelial tissues collected from 28 individuals. The study uncovers the activation of L1 jumping genes in normal cells, resulting in the gradual accumulation of genomic mutations over time. Additionally, the team explored epigenomic (DNA methylation) sequences to understand the mechanism behind L1 jumping gene activation. They found that cells with activated L1 jumping genes exhibit epigenetic instability, suggesting the critical role of epigenetic changes in regulating L1 jumping gene activity. Most of these epigenomic instabilities were found to arise during the early stages of embryogenesis. The study provides valuable insights into the aging process and the development of diseases in human colorectal tissues. "This study illustrates that genomic damage in normal cells is acquired not only through exposure to carcinogens but also through the activity of endogenous components whose impact was previously unclear. Genomes of apparently healthy aged cells, particularly in the colorectal epithelium, become mosaic due to the activity of L1 jumping genes," said Prof. Young Seok Ju at KAIST. "We emphasize the essential and ongoing collaboration among researchers in clinical medicine and basic medical sciences," said Prof. Min Jung Kim of the Department of Surgery at Seoul National University Hospital. "This case highlights the critical role of systematically collected human tissues from clinical settings in unraveling the complex process of disease development in humans." "I am delighted that the research team's advancements in single-cell genome technology have come to fruition. We will persistently strive to lead in single-cell genome technology," said Prof. Hyun Woo Kwon of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Korea University School of Medicine. The research team received support from the Research Leader Program and the Young Researcher Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea, a grant from the MD-PhD/Medical Scientist Training Program through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, and the Suh Kyungbae Foundation. < Figure 1. Experimental design of the study > < Figure 2. Schematic diagram illustrating factors influencing the soL1R landscape. > Genetic composition of rc-L1s is inherited from the parents. The methylation landscape of rc-L1 promoters is predominantly determined by global DNA demethylation, followed by remethylation processes in the developmental stages. Then, when an rc-L1 is promoter demethylated in a specific cell lineage, the source expresses L1 transcripts thus making possible the induction of soL1Rs.
KAIST debuts “DreamWaQer” - a quadrupedal robot that can walk in the dark
- The team led by Professor Hyun Myung of the School of Electrical Engineering developed “DreamWaQ”, a deep reinforcement learning-based walking robot control technology that can walk in an atypical environment without visual and/or tactile information - Utilization of “DreamWaQ” technology can enable mass production of various types of “DreamWaQers” - Expected to be used in exploration of atypical environment involving unique circumstances such as disasters by fire. A team of Korean engineering researchers has developed a quadrupedal robot technology that can climb up and down the steps and moves without falling over in uneven environments such as tree roots without the help of visual or tactile sensors even in disastrous situations in which visual confirmation is impeded due to darkness or thick smoke from the flames. KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 29th of March that Professor Hyun Myung's research team at the Urban Robotics Lab in the School of Electrical Engineering developed a walking robot control technology that enables robust 'blind locomotion' in various atypical environments. < (From left) Prof. Hyun Myung, Doctoral Candidates I Made Aswin Nahrendra, Byeongho Yu, and Minho Oh. In the foreground is the DreamWaQer, a quadrupedal robot equipped with DreamWaQ technology. > The KAIST research team developed "DreamWaQ" technology, which was named so as it enables walking robots to move about even in the dark, just as a person can walk without visual help fresh out of bed and going to the bathroom in the dark. With this technology installed atop any legged robots, it will be possible to create various types of "DreamWaQers". Existing walking robot controllers are based on kinematics and/or dynamics models. This is expressed as a model-based control method. In particular, on atypical environments like the open, uneven fields, it is necessary to obtain the feature information of the terrain more quickly in order to maintain stability as it walks. However, it has been shown to depend heavily on the cognitive ability to survey the surrounding environment. In contrast, the controller developed by Professor Hyun Myung's research team based on deep reinforcement learning (RL) methods can quickly calculate appropriate control commands for each motor of the walking robot through data of various environments obtained from the simulator. Whereas the existing controllers that learned from simulations required a separate re-orchestration to make it work with an actual robot, this controller developed by the research team is expected to be easily applied to various walking robots because it does not require an additional tuning process. DreamWaQ, the controller developed by the research team, is largely composed of a context estimation network that estimates the ground and robot information and a policy network that computes control commands. The context-aided estimator network estimates the ground information implicitly and the robot’s status explicitly through inertial information and joint information. This information is fed into the policy network to be used to generate optimal control commands. Both networks are learned together in the simulation. While the context-aided estimator network is learned through supervised learning, the policy network is learned through an actor-critic architecture, a deep RL methodology. The actor network can only implicitly infer surrounding terrain information. In the simulation, the surrounding terrain information is known, and the critic, or the value network, that has the exact terrain information evaluates the policy of the actor network. This whole learning process takes only about an hour in a GPU-enabled PC, and the actual robot is equipped with only the network of learned actors. Without looking at the surrounding terrain, it goes through the process of imagining which environment is similar to one of the various environments learned in the simulation using only the inertial sensor (IMU) inside the robot and the measurement of joint angles. If it suddenly encounters an offset, such as a staircase, it will not know until its foot touches the step, but it will quickly draw up terrain information the moment its foot touches the surface. Then the control command suitable for the estimated terrain information is transmitted to each motor, enabling rapidly adapted walking. The DreamWaQer robot walked not only in the laboratory environment, but also in an outdoor environment around the campus with many curbs and speed bumps, and over a field with many tree roots and gravel, demonstrating its abilities by overcoming a staircase with a difference of a height that is two-thirds of its body. In addition, regardless of the environment, the research team confirmed that it was capable of stable walking ranging from a slow speed of 0.3 m/s to a rather fast speed of 1.0 m/s. The results of this study were produced by a student in doctorate course, I Made Aswin Nahrendra, as the first author, and his colleague Byeongho Yu as a co-author. It has been accepted to be presented at the upcoming IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) scheduled to be held in London at the end of May. (Paper title: DreamWaQ: Learning Robust Quadrupedal Locomotion With Implicit Terrain Imagination via Deep Reinforcement Learning) The videos of the walking robot DreamWaQer equipped with the developed DreamWaQ can be found at the address below. Main Introduction: https://youtu.be/JC1_bnTxPiQ Experiment Sketches: https://youtu.be/mhUUZVbeDA0 Meanwhile, this research was carried out with the support from the Robot Industry Core Technology Development Program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE). (Task title: Development of Mobile Intelligence SW for Autonomous Navigation of Legged Robots in Dynamic and Atypical Environments for Real Application) < Figure 1. Overview of DreamWaQ, a controller developed by this research team. This network consists of an estimator network that learns implicit and explicit estimates together, a policy network that acts as a controller, and a value network that provides guides to the policies during training. When implemented in a real robot, only the estimator and policy network are used. Both networks run in less than 1 ms on the robot's on-board computer. > < Figure 2. Since the estimator can implicitly estimate the ground information as the foot touches the surface, it is possible to adapt quickly to rapidly changing ground conditions. > < Figure 3. Results showing that even a small walking robot was able to overcome steps with height differences of about 20cm. >
KAIST research team develops clathrin assembly for targeted protein delivery to cancer cells
In order to effectively treat cancer without additional side effects, we need a way to deliver drugs specifically to tumor cells. Protein assemblies have been widely used for drug delivery in the field of cancer treatment, but to use them for drug delivery they must first be functionalized, meaning they must be bound to the protein that recognizes the target tumor cell and deliver a drug that kills it. However, the functionalization process of protein assemblies is very complex, inefficient, and limited to small-sized chemical drugs, which limits their real-life applicability. On March 14, a KAIST research team led by Professor Hak-Sung Kim from the KAIST Department of Biological Sciences reported the development of a clathrin assembly that can specifically deliver drugs to cancer cells. Clathrin assemblies transport materials efficiently through endocytosis in living organisms. They are formed by the self-assembly of triskelion units, which are composed of three heavy chains bonded with three light chains. Inspired by this mechanism, the research team designed a clathrin chain to facilitate the functionalization of tumor cell recognition proteins and toxin proteins in order to deliver drugs specifically to tumor cells. From this, the team created a new type of clathrin assembly. Figure 1. (Upper) Schematic diagram of the development of a new clathrin assembly that simultaneously functionalizes two types of proteins (cancer cell recognition protein and toxin protein) on heavy and light chains of clathrin in a one-pot reaction (bottom, left) Electron microscopy image of clathrin assembly: formation of an assembly with a diameter of about 28 nanometers (bottom, right) Cancer cell killing effect of CLA: CLA functionalized with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) recognition protein and toxin protein kills only the cancer cells that overexpress EGFR. The newly developed clathrin assembly requires a one-pot reaction, meaning both the toxin and tumor-recognition proteins can be functionalized simultaneously and show high efficiency. As a result, this technique is expected to be used in a wide variety of applications in the fields of biology and medicine including drug delivery, vaccine development, and diagnosing illnesses. In this research, an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a common tumor marker, was used as the recognition protein, allowing drug delivery only to tumor cells. The clathrin assemblies that were functionalized to recognize EGFR showed a bonding strength 900-times stronger than it normally would due to the avidity effect. Based on this finding, the research team confirmed that treatment with toxin-functionalized clathrin assembly led to effective cell death for tumor cells, while it showed no such effect on healthy cells. This research by Dr. Hong-Sik Kim and his colleagues was published in Small volume 19, issue 8 on February 22 under the title, "Construction and Functionalization of a Clathrin Assembly for a Targeted Protein Delivery", and it was selected as the cover paper. Figure 2. Cover Paper: This study was published in the international journal 'Small' on February 22nd, Volume 19, No. 8, and was selected as the cover paper. First author Dr. Hong-Sik Kim said, “Clathrin is difficult to functionalize, and since it is extracted from mammals, realistic applications have been limited.” He added, “But the new clathrin assembly we designed for this research can be functionalized with two different types of proteins through a single-step reaction, and can be produced from E. coli, meaning it can become an applicable protein assembly technology for a wide range of biomedical fields.” This research was funded by the Global Ph.D. Fellowship and the Mid-career Researcher Grant of the National Research Foundation.
KAIST team develops smart immune system that can pin down on malignant tumors
A joint research team led by Professor Jung Kyoon Choi of the KAIST Department of Bio and Brain Engineering and Professor Jong-Eun Park of the KAIST Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering (GSMSE) announced the development of the key technologies to treat cancers using smart immune cells designed based on AI and big data analysis. This technology is expected to be a next-generation immunotherapy that allows precision targeting of tumor cells by having the chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) operate through a logical circuit. Professor Hee Jung An of CHA Bundang Medical Center and Professor Hae-Ock Lee of the Catholic University of Korea also participated in this research to contribute joint effort. Professor Jung Kyoon Choi’s team built a gene expression database from millions of cells, and used this to successfully develop and verify a deep-learning algorithm that could detect the differences in gene expression patterns between tumor cells and normal cells through a logical circuit. CAR immune cells that were fitted with the logic circuits discovered through this methodology could distinguish between tumorous and normal cells as a computer would, and therefore showed potentials to strike only on tumor cells accurately without causing unwanted side effects. This research, conducted by co-first authors Dr. Joonha Kwon of the KAIST Department of Bio and Brain Engineering and Ph.D. candidate Junho Kang of KAIST GSMSE, was published by Nature Biotechnology on February 16, under the title Single-cell mapping of combinatorial target antigens for CAR switches using logic gates. An area in cancer research where the most attempts and advances have been made in recent years is immunotherapy. This field of treatment, which utilizes the patient’s own immune system in order to overcome cancer, has several methods including immune checkpoint inhibitors, cancer vaccines and cellular treatments. Immune cells like CAR-T or CAR-NK equipped with chimera antigen receptors, in particular, can recognize cancer antigens and directly destroy cancer cells. Starting with its success in blood cancer treatment, scientists have been trying to expand the application of CAR cell therapy to treat solid cancer. But there have been difficulties to develop CAR cells with effective killing abilities against solid cancer cells with minimized side effects. Accordingly, in recent years, the development of smarter CAR engineering technologies, i.e., computational logic gates such as AND, OR, and NOT, to effectively target cancer cells has been underway. At this point in time, the research team built a large-scale database for cancer and normal cells to discover the exact genes that are expressed only from cancer cells at a single-cell level. The team followed this up by developing an AI algorithm that could search for a combination of genes that best distinguishes cancer cells from normal cells. This algorithm, in particular, has been used to find a logic circuit that can specifically target cancer cells through cell-level simulations of all gene combinations. CAR-T cells equipped with logic circuits discovered through this methodology are expected to distinguish cancerous cells from normal cells like computers, thereby minimizing side effects and maximizing the effects of chemotherapy. Dr. Joonha Kwon, who is the first author of this paper, said, “this research suggests a new method that hasn’t been tried before. What’s particularly noteworthy is the process in which we found the optimal CAR cell circuit through simulations of millions of individual tumors and normal cells.” He added, “This is an innovative technology that can apply AI and computer logic circuits to immune cell engineering. It would contribute greatly to expanding CAR therapy, which is being successfully used for blood cancer, to solid cancers as well.” This research was funded by the Original Technology Development Project and Research Program for Next Generation Applied Omic of the Korea Research Foundation. Figure 1. A schematic diagram of manufacturing and administration process of CAR therapy and of cancer cell-specific dual targeting using CAR. Figure 2. Deep learning (convolutional neural networks, CNNs) algorithm for selection of dual targets based on gene combination (left) and algorithm for calculating expressing cell fractions by gene combination according to logical circuit (right).
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.
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