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Koreans searched ‘depressed mood’ and ‘feeling lethargic’ more during the COVID-19 pandemic
Korea University Medical Students Confirmed ‘Corona Blue’ among Koreans Based on Naver Search Terms
The team studied depression among Koreans due to the COVID-19 pandemic by analyzing search terms
The first research result on public health science in Korea using Naver search trend
Undergraduate students at the Korea University College of Medicine analyzed the internet search terms entered into Naver, the biggest portal site in Korea, and published a research paper suggesting that Koreans felt depressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jieun Kim and Juhui Han, senior students of Korea University College of Medicine at that time, who graduated from the school in February, participated in the research team led by Professor Byung Chul Chun of the Department of Preventive Medicine as student researchers. They analyzed trends of internet search volume in Naver to demonstrate the prevalence of ‘corona blue’ caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing.
Also, the research team compared the search terms used in 2020 between the period with strengthened social distancing and the rest of the year. Under the social distancing level two or higher, the volume of searches for “depressed mood,” “restlessness,” “impaired concentration,” and “indecisiveness” went up significantly. The search volume for “insomnia” became relatively higher in the initial phase of the pandemic and fell over time. However, with the prolongation of the pandemic, the search volume for ‘wanting to die’ gradually increased. This suggests that simple depressed mood can progress to more severe disease, indicating that psychological health problem should be considered together with social distancing.
The research team analyzed big data to confirm the psychological health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They proved that psychological health was reflected to the internet search terms entered into Naver, the most popular portal site among Koreans. The study is meaningful because, although similar studies have been conducted in other countries, there have been few studies on search terms in Korea using big data from Naver.
“We are grateful to Korea University College of Medicine for giving us its support for student research activity to conduct such a wonderful research, and we are pleased that the our paper has been finally published,” said co-lead authors, Jieun Kim and Juhui Han. They also expressed their appreciation, saying: “We found the statistical analysis difficult. However, we were able to address those difficulties thanks to the support and guidance of our advisor.”
“This research is meaningful because it indirectly showed the association between COVID-19 and depressed mood, which we had assumed. It statistically proved that there was an increased volume of search terms related to major depressive disorder after the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Professor Byung Chul Chun, who led the research team. “Being able to identify health problems endured by the Korean public, such as depression, using Naver search terms is an important finding. I expect that students of Korea University College of Medicine to grow into medical scientists who will continue their research with an adventurous attitude by blazing a trail in uncharted territories.”
The research result was published under the title, Trends of Internet Search Volumes for Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Korea: An Interrupted Time-Series Analysis in the latest issue of the Journal of Korean Medical Science, a SCI journal published by the Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.
A Research Team Led by Professor Jin Won Kim from the Department of Internal Medicine Develops Targeted Photoactivation Strategy for High-Risk Atheroma
Joint Research Team (Left to right: Professor Jin Won Kim from the Cardiovascular Center at Korea University Guro Hospital, Professor Kyeongsoon Park from the Department of Systems Biotechnology at Chung-Ang University, and Professor Hongki Yoo from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST)
A joint research team led by Professor Jin Won Kim from the Cardiovascular Center at Korea University Guro Hospital, Professor Kyeongsoon Park from the Department of Systems Biotechnology at Chung-Ang University, and Professor Hongki Yoo from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST developed a targeted theranostic photoactivation strategy to detect and selectively treat high-risk arteriosclerotic plaques.
Phototherapy is a medical treatment in which the molecular mechanism inside cells is regulated by activating photosensitizers accumulated in cells using a specific wavelength of light. The research team developed a new theranostic agent by conjugating dextran sulfate (DS) to chlorin e6 (Ce6), which targeted a specific receptor in macrophages, and selectively delivered light energy to target lesions through a custom-built laser system resulting in the reduction and stabilization of high-risk inflammatory plaques.
The phototheranostic agent was designed to obtain images at the same time as it treats, verifying the therapeutic effect in vivo through an optimized small animal optical imaging system (Figure 1), and it is revealed that induction of autophagy via photoactivation led to the efferocytosis of dead cells (Figure 1).
(Figure 1) A schematic diagram of the mechanism of action of the targeted phototherapy. Therapeutic effect was maximized by selectively transmitting the photosensitizer Ce6 and inducing photoactivity through laser irradiation by targeting macrophages in the high-risk arteriosclerotic atheroma.
Professor Kim, the lead author of the study, said, "The results of this study will explain the mechanism of phototherapy for arteriosclerosis and at the same time open the door to the development of novel diagnosis and treatment strategies using light in cardiovascular conditions. We are currently developing an integrated theranostic strategy that fully combines the catheter and targeted precision imaging technology, which is expected to help overcome the limitations of existing approaches that have the risk from the remnant foreign materials such as stent”
The study was published in the latest issue of Journal of Nanobiotechnology (2020 JCR IF 10.435), a renowned international journal, with Ph. D. Joon Woo Song from KUCM and Jae Won Ahn from Chung-Ang University as first authors. The research was conducted with support from the National Research Foundation of korea.
Professor Sung Gu Kang Introduces ‘Neurovascular Bundle Sparing Technique’ to Reduce Complication of Sexual Dysfunction After Prostatectomy
Introduces the toggling technique which allows retrograde early release to facilitate neurovascular bundle sparing with world-renowned Dr. Vipul Patel
Robot-assisted radical prostatectomy with the toggling technique can improve recovery of sexual function after surgery
Professor Sung Gu Kang from the Department of Urology at Korea University Anam Hospital introduced the toggling technique which allowed retrograde early release to facilitate neurovascular bundle sparing during surgery. This approach dramatically boosted the recovery of sexual function following prostatectomy.
Professor Kang, together with Dr. Vipul Patel, a world-renowned doctor for his contribution to the field of robotic surgery especially for prostate cancer patients, conducted a study on the effect of retrograde early release approach for neurovascular bundle saving (toggling technique) on the recovery of erectile function. The study was published in the latest issue of Journal of Korean Medical Science.
The study revealed that Professor Kang's retrograde early release approach with the toggling technique could significantly boost the recovery from erectile dysfunction, one of the typical complications that could occur after conventional prostatectomy.
Those patients who underwent the robot-assisted radial prostatectomy with neurovascular bundle saving using the toggling technique had more than 10% better erectile function recovery compared to the other group without toggling. Overall, recovery of erectile function was 82% in the group with the toggling technique at the one-year follow-up.
Professor Kang said, “Advances in medical technology enabled us to perform minimally invasive surgeries using robots, which help enhance recovery while reducing complications. I believe this research not only demonstrates the excellent surgical technique that we have using robots for prostate cancer but also presents clinical evidence for minimally invasive surgeries. In addition, it can also facilitate recovery after surgery and help prostate cancer patients return to normal life sooner rather than later.”
Serving as a professor of urology at Korea University Anam Hospital, Dr. Kang is also a professor emeritus at the University of Central Florida Medical Center in the United States, well-known institution in the field of robotic surgery for prostate cancer, as well as an honorary professor at the Global Robotic Surgery Research Institute (GRI). He has utilized his skill and knowledge in this field to train and educate surgeons worldwide.
A Research Team Led by Professor Jong-Han Kim Reveals a New Chemotherapeutic Modality for Refractory Gastric Cancer with Peritoneal Metastasis
A multicenter prospective study on intraperitoneal anticancer treatment in patients with stage 4 gastric cancer with peritoneal metastasis conducted for the first time in Korea
Confirms recommended dose and safety of anticancer drugs administered into the peritoneal space combined systemic chemotherapy
A research team led by Professor Jong-Han Kim from the Division of Gastroenterological Surgery at Korea University Guro Hospital announced the results of a new systemic & intraperitoneal chemotherapy that can improve the survival rate of gastric cancer patients with peritoneal metastasis.
Professor Kim's team conducted a phase 1 study of intraperitoneal paclitaxel and oral S-1/oxaliplatin for advanced or recurrent gastric cancer with peritoneal metastasis. This study confirmed the recommended dose and safety of intraperitoneal paclitaxel administered with the systemic anticancer treatment.
Peritoneal metastasis is the most common type of metastasis and recurrence in patients with stage 4 advanced gastric cancer. In gastric cancer patients with distant metastasis, palliative systemic chemotherapy is the standard treatment, but even this has a very poor prognosis when peritoneal metastasis is present.
The research was a multicenter study involving more than 13 university hospitals in South Korea, and nine patients with stage 4 gastric cancer with peritoneal or distant metastasis received the treatment for approximately six months from June to December 2020. The subjects were divided into three groups to observe the progression after 40, 60, and 80 mg/㎡ of paclitaxel was administered into the peritoneal space respectively.
Phase I study confirmed that no serious side effects of grade 3 or higher were found in any of the patients participating in the study, and that peritoneal cancer index (PCI), which evaluates the degree of intraperitoneal metastasis decreased after chemotherapy.
Professor Kim said, "This research is a phase 1 multicenter study of intraperitoneal chemotherapy in stage 4 gastric cancer patients with peritoneal metastasis. Based on the results of this phase 1, a phase 2 study is currently implemented to prove its efficacy in enhancing survival. A phase 3 trial will be launched this year in order to confirm the survival rate compared to existing systemic chemotherapy."
He also said, "At present, only conventional palliative treatment is given to the gastric cancer patients with peritoneal metastasis because it is very difficult to treat and the benefit they could get from chemotherapy is very limited. Now, this study offers some hope for those patients with otherwise a fatal disease."
Professor Won Jun Seo from Korea University Guro Hospital and Professor Dong-Wook Kim from Dankook University Hospital participated as co-authors under the leadership of Professor Jong-Han Kim from Korea University Guro Hospital. Led by Professor You-Jin Jang, Korea University Guro Hospital along with 13 other centers in South Korea is currently running a phase 2 study. The results of the phase 1 study were published in the December 2021 issue of Journal of Gastric Cancer.