The new era of personalized cancer diagnosis and treatment


The joint KAIST research team of Professor Tae Young Yoon of the Department of Physics and Professor Won Do Huh of the Department of Biological Sciences have developed the technology to monitor characteristics of carcinogenic protein in cancer tissue – for the first time in the world.
The technology makes it possible to analyse the mechanism of cancer development through a small amount of carcinogenic protein from a cancer patient. Therefore, a personalised approach to diagnosis and treatment using the knowledge of the specific mechanism of cancer development in the patient may be possible in the future.
Until recently, modern medicine could only speculate on the cause of cancer through statistics. Although developed countries, such as the United States, are known to use a large sequencing technology that analyses the patient’s DNA, identification of the interactions between proteins responsible for causing cancer remained an unanswered question for a long time in medicine.
Firstly, Professor Yoon’s research team has developed a fluorescent microscope that can observe even a single molecule. Then, the “Immunoprecipitation method”, a technology to extract a specific protein exploiting the high affinity between antigens and antibodies was developed. Using this technology and the microscope, “Real-Time Single Molecule co-Immunoprecipitation Method” was created. In this way, the team succeeded in observing the interactions between carcinogenic and other proteins at a molecular level, in real time.
For full article, see KAIST.

Cancer can be checked with a drop of blood: ETRI

2012_12_etri_bloodThe state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) announced Wednesday that it has developed a whole blood processing chip and bio-sensor array chip, which enable anyone check diseases or food toxins at an earlier stage.

The whole blood processing chip enables anyone to easily screen cancers within 30 seconds, as it separates even one drop of blood into blood cells and plasma.

Currently, blood cells are separated from blood plasma by using a centrifugal separator, but it requires complicate procedure over a long time with the participation of medical doctors.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Healing from within

A local research team has succeeded in developing a new method for treating cancer using materials found naturally in the human body.

Advances in the medical sciences over the years have given rise to radiotherapy and to numerous different chemicals for treating cancer. While such methods have dramatically increased the chance of survival for cancer patients, medical professionals have been searching for alternatives due to the severe side effects of chemo and radiotherapy. One such method is immunotherapy which uses a patient’s immune system to treat a condition. In immunotherapy cancer treatments the immune system is stimulated to increase its response to antigens specific to cancer cells.

While the method developed by the team led by professor Lim Yong-taik of Chungnam National University’s Graduate School of Analytical Science and Technology is essentially the same as previously developed processes, the method differs in that it addresses two of the main obstacles faced by immunotherapy. 

For full article see Korea Herald.


Korean team develops substance that blocks spread of cancer

A team of South Korean scientists has developed a new substance that helps track and even prevent the spread of cancer cells from a primary tumor to adjacent organs, the science ministry said Thursday.

The team, led by Prof. Lee Seong-wook of Dankook University, has developed an RNA aptamer that binds to colorectal cancer cells in a peculiar way that makes the cancer cells easily identifiable, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

Easily detectable cancer cells in turn make it possible to track the metastasis or spread of colon cancer cells to the liver, which occurs in as many as seven out of every 10 patients.

“Up until now it was only believed colorectal cancer cells metastasized to the liver when there is an over-expression of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), but how CEA affects hepatic metastasis has never been identified, making it impossible to develop a substance that can effectively prevent hepatic metastasis of cancer cells,” the ministry said in a press release.

For full article see Yonhap News.

New cancer diagnosis may do away with radiation risk

Cancer patients are exposed to potentially harmful radiation during CT (computerized tomography) scans and other X-ray procedures, as well as invasive tests using radioactive isotopes.
That may change if the Korea Communications Commission’s (KCC) plans to back Korean technology aimed at providing a new method of cancer diagnosis succeeds.

The KCC affiliated Electronic and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) is behind experiments using electromagnetic waves in the 3-gigaherz spectrum to detect breast cancer, one of the six cancers that Koreans are most prone.
Clinical trials have been approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) with a view to commercialization by 2017.

Detectors spot the difference in the electrical response time of healthy cells and cancerous ones using a technique dubbed “micro-wave” tomography.

Read full article on: Korea Times

Scientists find all-round cancer suppressing enzyme

Korean scientists said Sunday they have discovered an enzyme capable of suppressing growth of both solid tumors and blood cancers, opening up the possibility of treating the potentially fatal disease.

A research team led by An Sung-kwan, a microbial engineering professor at Seoul’s Konkuk University, said the Mulan E3 ligase effectively deals with the Akt protein, kinase which plays a key role in the growth and spread cancer in the body.

“The Mulan enzyme has been found to act as a powerful dissolver of Akt by utilizing the mitochondria in cells,” the team said. Mitochondria are “cellular power plants” that control cell differentiation, cell death, and cell growth.

For full article see Korea Times.

Korea to build research reactor for production of isotopes

The government took the first step toward building its first research nuclear reactor that can produce molybdenum-99, a radioactive isotope used to diagnose and treat various illnesses, including cancer.

The country already has a research reactor that produces radioactive isotopes but not molybdenum, which is most frequently used in medical procedures, according to an official from the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI).

The new 20-megawatt reactor, along with an isotope production facility, will be built in Busan, 450 kilometers south of Seoul, by 2016. The 290 billion won ($259 million) project will be partially funded by the city of Busan, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said.

For full article see Korea Times.

Joint development of anti-cancer drug research firms

 The National Cancer Center President, Lee Jin-soo introduced the Bridging & Development Cancer Program Therapeutics with System Integration as a research foundation for a new anti-cancer drug. Kim, In –cheo is the manager of this organization. This program was designated by the ministry of Health and Welfare on January 26th and a material transfer agreement (MTA) with Sanofi Aventis Korea was developed ( for joint development research of a new anti-cancer drug.

According to this agreement, the program will conduct all clinical trials for a toxicity test on the candidates. These contain substances for new anti-drugs that will further be developed by Sanofi Aventis Korea, who will verify its efficacy.

Program Manager Kim, In-cheol spoke of the significance of this agreement, saying “joint development with a multinational pharmaceutical firm is the most effective way for us to overcome Korea’s limited resources and infrastructure for new drug development and secure global competitiveness in the new drug area. This agreement marks the first step in such an endeavor.”

For full article see Korea IT Times.

Virus-deriving new material capable of fighting cancer discovered

A new material that can stabilize the function of protein that suppresses cancer has been discovered. The study was conducted through an international joint study by a research team led by Dr. Kim Myung-hee, Korea Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), and Prof. Jung Jae-Ung, University of Southern California. The study was first published online in ‘Nature Structural and Molecular Biology’ (IF=13.7), the world’s most prestigious journal in structural biology.

Generally, cancer treatment is conducted through the secretion of a cancer-suppressing protein called p53, and the cancer-fighting effect can be maximized when the function of this protein is sustained for a prolonged period of time. p53 is regulated by HAUSP, a peptide that suppresses protein resolution, and MDM2, a peptide that induces protein resolution. The core task in this field of research is the development of a material that can properly control these two peptides.

For full article see Korea Science.