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Research Team led by Dr. Tae Hoon Kim, Professor of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Identifies Potential Treatment Mechanism for Allergic Disorders
Joint Research between KU and KIST expected to suggest treatment strategy that can overcome the limitations of medication and immune therapies
Break-through treatment strategy based on gene manipulation of immune cells
A research team led by Tae Hoon Kim professor of otorhinolaryngology and Mihue Jang of Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) identified a novel approach of treating refractory allergic diseases.
Symptomatic remedies and immune therapies are conventionally used to relieve symptoms of those patients who suffer from allergy. Drug treatments use anti-histamines which modulate the immune response in order to mitigate symptoms. However, the efficacy does not last and they tend to cause side effects such as somnolence and others. Immune therapies require a long-term administration over several years without interruption until the patients can enjoy the benefit of treatment.
A research team led by professor Tae Hoon Kim suggested a new treatment approach that can overcome the limitations of existing allergy treatment options as it can treat allergy by taking care of its root cause. The team established a promising dendritic cell-based therapeutic approach for the alleviation of allergic reactions, using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9-mediated targeted gene disruption. Thus, this novel modality using genetically engineered dendritic cells can provide an effective therapeutic and preventative strategy for refractory allergic diseases.
RNA sequencing analysis was used to reveal a significant upregulation of vacuolar protein sorting 37 B (VPS37B) in those patients with allergy. This was selectively adjusted in dendritic cells using the CRISPR scissors before they were injected back into the patient to see excellent treatment effects.
Professor Kim said, "The collaboration study involving Korea University Anam Hospital and KIST over the years led us to identify the immune cells that are responsible for many different diseases using NGS approach. Once detected, the immune cells can be modified to see the benefit of treatment of allergic diseases." He added, "I hope that this platform can be used in many different immune diseases as well as allergy and can induce the development of treatment for refractory diseases."
This study titled “‘A novel therapeutic modality using CRISPR-engineered dendritic cells to treat allergies” is published in the June 2021 issue of Biomaterials, an academic journal which has been ranked number 1 in the field of biomaterials for five years in a row (Impact Factor: 12.479). It was also included in the People that Korea is Proud of published by the Biological Information Center.
Hantaan Virus Found in Jeju for First Time
Professor Jin-Won Song and His Team Identify a Novel Pathogenic Genotype Causing Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome in Jeju
A research team led by Dr. Jin-Won Song, professor of microbiology found for the first time the Hantaan virus in the Jeju striped field mouse (Apodemus chejuensis), a native animal to the Jeju Island. The virus can cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (epidemic hemorrhagic fever).
Jumping from rodents to people, orthohantavirus causes hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and poses a significant public health threat as those infected with it can develop renal failure, hemorrhage, thrombocytopenia, shock and other conditions. The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention Agency reports there are around 400 to 500 cases of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome every year in Korea. Over the past decade, Jeju had a total of 18 cases.
The research team identified the Hantaan virus in the Jeju striped field mouses collected from 2018 to 2020. Phylogenetic and tanglegram analyses were conducted for inferring evolutionary relationships to reveal that it was a novel distinct HTNV genotype, which is different from the Hantaan virus found on the mainland Korea.
Jeju virus found in the Crocidura shantungensis is known to be a nonpathogenic virus which does not cause any disease in humans. The Hantaan virus identified in the Jeju striped field mouse is meaningful in that it is the first pathogenic virus found in Jeju.
The study titled, “A novel genotype of Hantaan orthohantavirus harbored by Apodemus agrarius chejuensis as a potential etiologic agent of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome in Republic of Korea” is published in a recent issue of the top-ranking journal in tropical medicine, PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES.
Professor Jin-Won Song graduated from Korea University College of Medicine (KUCM) in 1987 and received master and doctor’s degree at the graduate school of KUCM. Joining the faculty of the same school in 1996, he devoted himself to researches to detect several new viruses including Imjin and Jeju viruses. His achievements in research earned him Award of National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Korea in 2011, Ho Wang Lee Award in 2013, KUCM Medicine Award in 2017, and Granite Tower Research Award in 2017, 2019 and 2021. He was admitted as a regular member to the National Academy of Medicine of Korea in 2021. He is currently serving as the president of the International Society for Hantaviruses, becoming a second Korean to be in that post and he was inaugurated as the head of the Korean Society of Virology in 2020.
Jane Ha, Stands Out as Undergraduate Student Researcher in Obesity and Metabolic Disease
Seven Papers Published Over Recent Two Years
Jane Ha, a medical student in her fourth year at Korea University College of Medicine, stands out in the field of obesity and metabolid diseases as she had seven papers published in SCI-level international academic journals as the first author.
There are many things unknown as to the mechanism of diabetes remission following bariatric and metabolic surgery and Jane Ha first started to pay attention to the research on the link between the gastrointestinal and endocrinologic systems. Once the close link between the two systems is identified, a new drug targeting such a link can be developed. Starting from the time when she was just freshman, she joined research programs at the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Disease, Korea University Anam Hospital to have ten articles published. In seven out of the 10 papers, she was the first author. Her achievement is more meaningful in that it was not required for medical students to have their papers published for graduation.
One of the studies that she was engaged in investigated the longitudinal changes in micronutrient status after bariatric and metabolic surgery and was published in the globally renowned academic journal, Obesity Reviews (Impact factor IF=9.3, one of the top 10% journals in endocrinology and metabolism). This systematic review and meta-analysis found significant decreases in micronutrient levels in those patients who received bariatric and metabolic surgery. It was meaningful in that more than 14,000 cases of bariatric and metabolic surgeries were assessed to recommend a post-surgical micronutrient monitoring schedule for timely detection and management of micronutrient deficiencies.
Jane Ha received a grant from the Health Fellowship Foundation for the creativity and significance of her research proposal. She was the only undergraduate to receive such a grant. The grant money was spent on the study on metabolomics, which has been utilized to discover biomarkers predicting disease progression or prognosis after bariatric and metabolic surgery. The review paper describing the significance of metabolomic research in the field of bariatric and metabolic surgery is accepted to be published in Obesity Surgery (IF=4.1), an official journal for the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders.
Jane Ha said, “I got this precious opportunity thanks to professor Sungsoo Park and Yeongkeun Kwon who paid attention to my ideas and gave advices. I believe getting involved in researches and coming up with and sharing the outcome can be a meaningful contribution to the further advancement of medicine. I leaned priceless lessons while working on this research project communicating with experts on metabolomics, statistics and those in other related academic fields. They helped me develop good insight into the study and led me to have a dream of becoming a researcher specialized in obesity and metabolism.”
Her academic adviser, Sungsoo Park, professor of upper gastrointestinal surgery said, “I am very proud of her as she initiated the study herself. She showed keen interest in the clinical and translational research and led the study with such a passion that deeply impressed me.”
Research Team Led by Dr. Seung-Ha Park, Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Proves Early Laser Treatment Effects
Early application of fractional laser leads to good outcome
A research team led by Dr. Seung-Ha Park, professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery proves for the first time in the world the mechanism of early treatment effects of fractional laser on scars.
Professor Park's research team has already released several case studies demonstrating the benefit of early treatment of fractional lasers. Histological and biochemical assessment was done in the recent study to present world's first scientific evidence as to the treatment benefit of fractional lasers.
The complicated mechanism of wound healing occurs in phases. The inflammation phase that lasts for the first a few days is followed by the proliferation phase when capillary vessels proliferate and collagen tissue is formed. During the maturation phase of the following months, the capillary vessels subside and collagen tissue is remodeled. Scars do not follow the standard progression of normal wound healing as their inflammation and proliferation phases are prolonged to delay the maturation phase.
Professor Park and its team demonstrated through histological and biochemical assessment that fractional laser treatment shortened the inflammation and proliferation phases to move on to the maturation much quicker to facilitate healing process.
A total of 40 scars were created which were divided into two groups: the treatment group consists of animals whose laser treatment was initiated one week after the crust fell and the other group to which no treatment was offered. The treatment group received six sessions of laser treatment in total at two-week intervals.
Pathological assessment found the early treatment of fractional lasers led to a reduction in capillary vessels and oxygen supply, preventing the collagen fibers from being proliferated, which in turn led to collagen re-arrangement of the thick collagen fibers making them to be thinner and adopt normal arrangement. Biochemical assessment showed fractional lasers resulted in a significant increase in MMP-2 and Decorin, which help the scars heal. Enzyme Immunoassay found a higher messenger RNA (mRNA) expression.
Professor Park said, "Fractional lasers project micro columnar laser beams that penetrate deep into the skin while preserving the epithelium. This is a very safe approach and it facilitates the regeneration of the skin without causing the side effects that other laser treatments have."
He also added, "There are several treatment approaches that can be applied to scars. Fractional laser stands out as it can be widely used in patients with different types of scars from trauma or surgery. Early treatment with fractional lasers makes it unnecessary or reduce the necessity of having a plastic surgery later on."
This study titled "Early Treatment Effects of Nonablative Fractional Lasers (NAFL) on Hypertrophic Scars in an Animal Model" is published in the April 2021 issue of the internationally renowned journal, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.