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“Early Detection of Lung Cancer Made Possible with Nano Technology”
One drop of blood leads to diagnosis of lung cancer
AI assesses exosomes in blood
Stage 1 lung cancer can be detected
Study published in ACS Nano
One drop of blood is enough for the diagnosis of lung cancer and it can be done in about half an hour. Such a new approach was developed by a Korean research team and it is published in May issue of ACS Nano (IF:14.5), a renowned international journal in chemistry and nano technology.
A joint research team led by professor Yeonho Choi of biomedical engineering at Korea University and professor Hyun Koo Kim of thoracic surgery at Korea University Guro Hospital developed a model based on nano technology and artificial intelligence, which can classify exosomes derived from normal and lung cancer cell lines with an accuracy of 95%. Exosomes, nanosized extracellular vesicles found in blood are used as a biomarker for cancer diagnosis.
This technology would allow even patients with stage 1 lung cancer, who have had difficulty in early diagnosis, to be checked for lung cancer in about 30 minutes with a drop of blood. This is sure to make significant contribution to much better survival of the lung cancer patients.
▲ From left to right: professor Yeonho Choi (corresponding author, Department of Biomedical Engineering at Korea University), professor Hyun Koo Kim (corresponding author, Department of Thoracic Surgery at Korea University Guro Hospital), and Hyunku Shin (first author, Department of Bio-convergence Engineering at Korea University)
Blood sample has already been used to diagnose lung cancer, but it could detect lung cancer in only about 50% of the patients. The new approach improved it up to 84%. It can also predict how the tumors would progress.
Many of the lung cancer patients are diagnosed only after they have advanced to stage 3 or above, making it difficult to get curative treatment. As one of the cancers with a high mortality, its early detection can improve the survival significantly. It is no wonder there have been a number of active researches conducted in order to find ways to detect lung cancer in early stages, and exosomes, nanosized extracellular vesicles found in blood, have been proposed as promising biomarkers for liquid biopsy.
The researchers isolated exosomes from the cell culture of 20 healthy subjects and 43 patients with stages 1 and 2 of non-small cell lung cancer. They detected more than 2,000 Raman spectroscopy signals using nanotechnology based on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Using the signal, the researchers trained a deep learning-based artificial intelligence model and succeeded in sorting healthy cells and lung cancer cell exosomes with 95 percent accuracy. They also succeeded in classifying lung cancer patients' exosomes to about 84-percent sensitivity and 85-percent specificity compared to exosomes derived from lung cancer cells.
Dr. Choi said, “This research proved the effectiveness of the diagnostic approach using the exosome assessment and deep-learning artificial intelligence in early stage lung cancer.” He explained, “It can not only detect stage 1 lung cancer but also diagnose lung cancers in the later stages with much better accuracy. This means that it may even be possible to use it as a test to monitor tumors for changes that indicate when they are progressing.”
“By using this technology, hospitals can conduct a blood test to pre-screen patients who are likely to have lung cancer and perform CT tests only when necessary as such tests may cause radiation exposure,” Professor Kim said. “The new method is significant because it can detect stage 1 lung cancer patients with relatively good accuracy. This early detection is expected to result in improved survival of those patients diagnosed with lung cancer.”
The study, Early-Stage Lung Cancer Diagnosis by Deep Learning-Based Spectroscopic Analysis of Circulating Exosomes, was carried out as part of the basic research project strategically implemented by the National Research Foundation of Korea and sponsored by the Korean Health Industry Development Institute.
In the research, technology developed by Exopert, a medical technology holding company of Korea University, for which professor Yeonho Choi serves as its CEO was used. Exopert is dedicated to the development of kits which can quickly isolate exosomes in high purity from the blood sample of cancer patients plus cancer diagnostic tools using exosomes. It plans to launch a multi-center study involving five hospitals including the Korea University Guro Hospital in an attempt to demonstrate the reliability of its technology and facilitate its commercialization. About 400 healthy participants and patients will be recruited for the study.
Korea University, Designated as a Key Player for Digital Health Care R&D
Korea University was nominated as one of the key organizations for ‘Seoul Hongreung Gangso [literally meaning small but strong] Special R&D District (hereinafter referred to as “Hongreung Special District”).’ Supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea, Hongreung Special District is a local platform for R&D and collaboration to promote commercialization of science and technology.
Those special districts designated by the Ministry of Science and ICT are provided with various benefits such as national and local tax cuts, exceptional application of regulations as well as government support for R&D budget. In an attempt to boost the Hongreung Special District, the Seoul Metropolitan Government nominated Korea University, Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), and Kyunghee University as the key organizations with high-level technologies. These nominees are encouraged to collaborate with those companies based in the special district for R&D projects and commercialization of technologies, which would allow them to be better positioned to penetrate overseas market.
As Korea’s first R&D complex, the Hongreung Special District houses a number of top-level research and educational organizations such as Korea University, Kyunghee University, University of Seoul as well as KIST, KAIST Seoul Campus, and Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information. Years ago, the Seoul Metropolitan Government revealed a plan to create a bio cluster in the Hongreung district. Such a plan is likely to pick up speed due to the designation of the Hongreung special district by the Ministry of Science and ICT.
Hongreung Special District is to be further developed into the ‘GLOBE STAR (GLObal Bio-healthcare Ecosystem for Sustainable Tech-startup Acceleration and Research) MediCluster’, which will be specialized on the development of digital healthcare including biomarkers, smart diagnostics, big data platform, AI-based medical S/W and others. Korea University has a medical school, colleges, hospitals and tech holdings under its umbrella, and they are sure to make great contribution to the R&D activities, which are to be implemented in collaboration with other players. This is sure to draw attention as it will allow all the related stakeholders to enjoy synergy effect.
Among others, the Korea University Medical Center (led by Dr. Young-hoon Kim, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and President & CEO of University Medical Affairs) armed with research-focused hospitals of Anam and Guro, ‘ISO14155 (Clinical investigation of medical devices for human subjects-Good clinical practice) certificate’, and high-level skills and knowledge based on its clinical experiences are sure to play important roles.
In December 2018, the Korea University Medical Center (KUMC) unveiled its plan to develop top 10 medical technologies of the future. Later at the Next Normal Conference 2020, KUMC announced its detailed plan to build the ‘Jungreung K-Bio Campus’ which includes research facilities for new infectious diseases. Since KUMC identified research as one of the main sources of income for future generations, it has stepped up its research governance and upgraded its research infrastructure over the years. The designation of the Hongreung Special District is likely to offer big opportunities for the Center. Starting from 2014 there has been active collaboration with KIST and other organizations, joint researches have been implemented through the Translational Clinical Research Center and regular workshops have been held. All in all, there is little hurdle in working with other partners in the cluster.
President Jin-taek Chung said, “I feel greatly honored as we are designated as one of the key organizations for the Hongreung Special District. It seems that great responsibility falls on our shoulders. We will do our best in order to help Hongreung grow into a world-class bio medical cluster and I am sure that it will rise to become a new symbol of pride for Koreans. We are determined to do our utmost to fulfill our role along the journey.”
Dr. Young-hoon Kim, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs said, “I am sure that the Hongreung Special District would provide us with a good opportunity to make another leap forward. We are ready to make contribution with all the research capabilities and skills that we have accumulated over the years. By building the best test bed for ‘next medicines’, we will make sure the promising technologies are fully developed and commercialized through the cooperation among the industry, academia and research centers.”
Meanwhile, the Korea University Guro Hospital was chosen by the Ministry of Health & Welfare as an organization to manage the Project to Nurture Research-Focused Hospitals 2020. Over the upcoming 8 years and 6 months till 2028, it supervises research projects funded by a total budget of 35.8 billion won. As the leader for the ‘Project to Upgrade the Innovative Medical Technology Platform based on AI and Big Data,’ it is dedicated to put innovative medical technologies into practical use by upgrading the AI and big data-based platform for new drug development and diagnostic and medical devices.
For the period of four years starting from 2020, the Korea University Ansan Hospital will be engaged in the project to build the platform to support the ‘healing concept-based care products and services’ with the database system. In collaboration with enterprises, it will dedicate itself to the promotion of new industries and take a further step to help release proven smart health care products and services to the public market. Supervised by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea, the Project to Build the Base for Industrial Innovation (managed by the Gyeonggido Business & Science Accelerator) invited the Korea University Ansan Hospital and Ansan City to create the platform to support and boost the industry for healing and healthcare products of MediCulture and to be engaged in the lifecycle support for the industry starting from product development, clinical demonstration, obtaining license from abroad and consulting.
Professor Jae Wook Choi receives a medal from
Uzbekistan Government for his contribution to
health promotion and establishment of COVID-19 quarantine system in Uzbekistan
On September 15, professor Jae Wook Choi of preventive medicine at Korea University College of Medicine (KUCM) was decorated with a medal for his contribution to the public health enhancement in Uzbekistan.
In commemoration of the 29th anniversary of national independence, Uzbekistan established the National Decoration System of ‘Order of Salomatlik (Medal for Health) on September 1 and its Presidential Office presented the medal to professor Choi for his active promotion of international cooperation for health sector betterment and his great contribution to building the national medical system of Uzbekistan.
Through the good office of the Korean government, he was dispatched to the country in March and served there as a national advisor on COVID-19 for four weeks helping the Uzbekistan government draw its major policies to fight against the COVID-19. Months later at the request of the Uzbekistan government, he flew over to the country again in order to give advice on how to implement a quarantine system for COVID-19 and how to best mange patients infected with the virus.
From 2016 to 2022, he also served as a principal researcher for a project aimed at upgrading the education of environmental and health science at the Tashkent Medical Academy. At the same time, he contributed to better health of the people in Uzbekistan by offering public health education.
Meanwhile, Korea University and Tashkent Medical Academy of Uzbekistan opened KU-TMA collaboration research center with the purpose of enhancing research capabilities regarding environmental health. It has implemented joint researches and offered programs to nurture new researchers, which further solidified the friendly bilateral ties between the two countries.
Professor Jae Wook Choi graduated from the Korea University College of Medicine in 1988 and joined the faculty of preventive medicine at KUCM in 1996. As the Chairman of the Korean Society of Global Health, he has endeavored to develop research and education in the global health in Korea. in addition, he got involved in a number of international collaboration projects: Consultant project for National Cancer Center of Senegal (2019-2024); feasibility study for the construction of the Uzbekistan Notional Oncology Center (2020); feasibility study for the construction of the Bolivian general hospital (2019); feasibility study for the construction of a children’s hospital in Pakistan (2019); feasibility study for the construction of Laos University Hospital (2016-2017); feasibility study for a medical device supply project in Sri Lanka (2019); feasibility study for the construction of a Hai Phong general hospital in Vietnam (2015); and performance management monitoring and evaluation of the Second Air Ticket Solidarity Levy (2016-2019). Currently he is the president of Korea University’s Institute for Occupational Environmental health, chairman of Korean Society of Global Health, Inter-Korea Medical Cooperation of Korea Medical Association, and Committee of Scientific Review Committee of the Korea Medical Association.
KUCM Students’ study on flu vaccine’s effects
published in international journal
Need to expand the national influenza vaccination program
A study assessing the cost-effectiveness of influenza vaccine on middle-aged and older populations conducted by Korea University College of Medicine (KUCM) students has been published in a well-known international journal.
The study, "Cost-effectiveness of trivalent and quadrivalent influenza vaccines in 50- to 64-year-old adults in Korea" carried out by Eun Joung Choi and Joo Hee Park, students at KUCM, along with a research team led by professor Byung Chul Chun of the department of preventive medicine (Epidemiology and Health Informatics Research Team), appeared in the July issue of Vaccine (journal with an impact factor of 3.269).
50- to 64-year-old age group is vulnerable to the risk of complications of influenza but is not included in the National Immunization Program (NIP). The study team demonstrated that implementing NIP in the 50- to 64-year-old age group was cost-effective. The estimation of cost-effectiveness was performed by matching the probability of infection or complications, which were assumed by constructing separate decision trees for age subgroups, with the medical cost estimated based on the National Health Insurance claim data.
The study found that vaccinating 50- to 64-year-olds against influenza is cost-effective. In addition, quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIV) is a better option than the trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) for the NIP. Today South Korea runs NIP which offers free TIV vaccines to those people older than 65 and young children but not for 50-64 years old population.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping around the world, it is very timely to study the risk of infectious diseases and the benefits of vaccinations. The study suggests that vaccine types and their targets need and can be chosen by taking social effect and cost into consideration.
Eun Joung Choi and Joo Hee Park said, “We are very happy to see this study completed. It just started from a very simple idea.” They also thanked professor Chun by saying, “We were able to conclude it with the full support from professor Byung Chul Chun.”
Professor Chun said, “They set on this study as sophomore and completed as senior. They invested their vacations in this study to see a good outcome. It is quite meaningful in that they solved all the issues with their creativity and overcame barriers by making strenuous efforts.” He also added, “There are more studies initiated by other students still under way. I hope they also come to significant conclusions and enjoy good outcome. I hope students of Korea University College of Medicine will continue grow to become passionate and creative scholars in the future.”