Tech developed to for non-invasive microscopic brainwave measurements

The principle of forming a conductive nanomesh and the material structure.
The principle of forming a conductive nanomesh and the material structure.

Korean research team has successfully developed a technique to make a new material that can measure brainwaves without making an incision into a patient’s scalp. A research team headed by Dr. Lee Hyung-jung from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced on Feb. 11 that they have succeeded in developing a new material with a mesh structure capable of detecting even weak biosignals when attached to a human skull. It was done by combining a single-layer carbon nanotube and a substance that the team calls P8GB#1.

Biosignals from a brain, a heart, and muscles are usually delivered in the form of ions. It is possible to get various kinds of information by changing ion signals into electronic signals and analyzing the result using electronic devices. The research team discovered P8GB#1, a substance with a tendency to stick to single-layer carbon nanotubes, producing a highly-conductive nanomesh. The material with a minute mesh structure can detect electronic signals owing to the large contact surface.

For full article, see Business Korea.

Samsung to mass-produce healthcare device chips

2013_08_samsung_officeA senior executive at Samsung Electronics said Wednesday that it plans to mass-produce chips to be used in various healthcare devices within the next three years. “Samsung is in the process of developing chips to be used in wearable devices. We aim to mass-produce such chips in the next two or three years,” said E.S. Jung, executive vice president of the firm’s semiconductor research center. He made the remarks in a keynote speech at the SEMICON Korea conference in the COEX Convention Center, southern Seoul.He said memory chips will play critical role in the Internet of Things (IoT) as every single product from leading manufacturers will be connected.

Samsung Electronics has said that all its appliances will be connected by 2020.
“Samsung is looking toward wearable memory chips,” Jung said. The company is betting on healthcare, and is collaborating with IBM, Microsoft and SAP to put their health platforms on Samsung devices. Jung said semiconductors are the basis of its healthcare products.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Korea to inject 75 million USD to develop domestic titanium industry

Korea will inject 81.8 billion won ($75.5 million) into developing a domestic titanium parts and material industry that can make components for aircrafts, medical implant applications and industrial plants, the government said Tuesday. The seven-year plan includes the government providing 60.3 billion won in support with the rest of the money coming from private companies, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said. For this year, 9.5 billion won has been set aside in the state budget to support the project, it said.

Titanium, a low-density, high-strength metal, was first developed on a mass scale for military use. It is stronger than steel, light and highly corrosion resistant, although it costs more and is more scarce and harder to manufacture than steel. Even before the industry is fully developed, demand for heat exchange parts in desalination plants, steam turbine blades used in various power generating facilities and medical implants could create a 317 billion won market, the ministry said. Titanium parts can also be used in South Korea’s next generation fighter project. The material is used on the leading edges of wings in many aircraft.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Technology developed to make memory devices with chitosan from crab shells

An electron microscope image of silica (grey) coated on the surface of gold nano-particles (black). A silica shell with a similar thickness is formed on each of the gold nano-particles.
An electron microscope image of silica (grey) coated on the surface of gold nano-particles (black). A silica shell with a similar thickness is formed on each of the gold nano-particles.

A Korean research team has successfully developed a technology to produce memory devices using chitosan extracted from crab shells. This technique is expected to be usable when making memory devices for eco-friendly and bio-friendly electronic equipment in the future. ​Lee Jang-sik, professor of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), announced on Jan. 12 that his research team has succeeded in developing bio-friendly memory devices based on chitosan extracted from the shell of crustaceans like crabs or shrimp.

The newly-developed chitosan-based device can satisfy the product performance necessary for memory devices in terms of durability and the ability to store information. In particular, the device uses by-products of seafood, and thus it is not expensive to manufacture.

Most of all, the new memory device is likely to be utilized in many areas, since it can be attached to or inserted in the skin, unlike existing silicon devices. Therefore, it could be used in the medical engineering area to make next-generation capsule-type endoscopes, artificial muscles, artificial organs, and patch-type electronic devices.

For full article, see KoreaBusiness.

Health care sector in turmoil over telemedicine

Late last year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare released a final plan to start telemedicine in 2015. “Telemedicine” refers to the use of information technologies for the delivery of clinical care. Related ministries also announced a joint plan to allow hospitals to establish subsidiaries to engage in incidental businesses, mergers and acquisitions among medical institutions, and to lift the cap on the number of foreign patients.

The Korea Medical Association (KMA), a lobby group of physicians, said last week that it would finalize a walkout plan on Jan. 11, saying it would not “tolerate” the government’s plan to allow telemedicine and for-profit hospital subsidiaries.

A senior KMA member said Wednesday that the group would likely launch a nationwide walkout this month. But the group will decide later on whether to stage an all-out strike after observing the public sentiment, noting that the recent train workers’ walkout was not as welcomed by the public as past strikes. The KMA is one of the major groups of doctors who are concerned that the government’s recent plan could pave the way for the privatization of medical services and hurt their business.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

PET-MRI made in Korea

Domestic PET-MRI clinical trial
Domestic PET-MRI clinical trial

The joint research team (KAIST, Sogang University and Seoul National University) with KAIST Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering Professor Kyu-Sung Cho in charge, together with National Nanofab Institution (NNFC; Director Jae-Young Lee), has developed PET-MRI simultaneous imaging system with domestic technology only. The team successfully acquired brain images of 3 volunteers with the newly developed system.

PET-MRI is integrated state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment that combines the advantages of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that shows anatomical images of the body and Position Emission Tomography (PET) that analyses cell activity and metabolism. Since the anatomical information and functional information can be seen simultaneously, the device can be used to diagnose early onset Alzheimer’s disease and is essential in biological science research, such as new medicine development.

The existing equipment used to take MRI and PET images separately due to the strong magnetic field generated by MRI and combine the images. Hence, it was time consuming and error-prone due to patient’s movement. There was a need to develop PET that functions within a magnetic field to create a simultaneous imaging system.

For full article, see KAIST.

Korea to launch first brain bank next year

2013_08_brainKorea’s first state-run brain tissue repository will be established next year to assist research on neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and autism, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said Thursday. The planned “brain bank” in Daegu is expected to collect, store and distribute brain and spinal cord tissue for research.

The Korea Brain Research Institute will take charge of designing and operating the project to study neurodegenerative diseases and develop treatments more systematically and effectively, officials said. The institute will also organize an advisory committee consisting of neuro-scientists and doctors, and set up the necessary ethical codes for brain research.

A brain bank collects donated brains from patients who died while suffering from neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, autism and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The brain tissue repository assists scientists performing research into those neurological or psychiatric disorders, study the causes, and also look for a cure.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

3D printer technology woven into diverse industries

2013_07_3DprintingChoi Yoon-chung (aged 22) has recently decided to undergo bimaxillary operation for her protruding lower jaw. Choi had been hesitant about the surgery as it involves risky procedures such as cutting off the facial bone and repositioning the upper and lower jaw bones. However, she has become resolved to the operation after receiving explanations that the surgery ensures safety using 3D (three-dimensional) printer technology.

3D printers are widely used for medical purposes including riskier plastic surgery, orthodontic movement and artificial hands/ legs. They enable surgeons to perform simulated surgery/ mock operations ahead of actual operations and make subsidiary organs catered to each patent, resulting in higher medical efficiency.

The luxury sportscar brand, Lamborghini utilized 3D printer technology to create a pilot model of the “Aventador.” Prior to the introduction of 3D printer technology, $40,000 and four-month period were required for the production but 3D printing brought down costs and the period to $3,000 and 20 days.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

Korean scientists identify aging-related gene

A group of South Korean scientists has identified a gene that may help slow the rate of aging and also treat or prevent cancer, the science ministry said Tuesday. According to the team from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, the gene, TXNIP, helps create and maintain hematopoietic stem cells, which are blood cells that develop into all other blood cells, including immunity-related white cells.

The gene’s relevance to aging was identified in a test, in which hematopoietic cells in mice that lack TXNIP genes dropped by up to 90 percent compared to a group of controlled or normal mice when they were aged and placed under stress. None of the mice lacking TXNIP genes survived after a seven-day period while all of the normal mice survived, the ministry said in a press release. The team has also confirmed that hematopoietic stem cells lacking TXNIP genes have up to 40 percent more reactive oxygen species, which in turn suppressed the cell cycle, and thus sped up the rate of cell aging and eventually led to their death.

For full article, see Yonhap News.