IBS CNM strives to develop breakthroughs in nanomedicine to gain a better understanding and control of nano-bio interface and the phenomena therein. We are developing nanomaterials and nanotools with unique functionality which can lead to new findings in biology and provide novel approaches in current medicine.
NanoBio Interface Science: Working Group 1
Establishing nanomaterials and nano-devices to comprehensively observe, understand, and precisely modulating biological systems in on-command and spatio-temporally regulated manner
Nanomaterials have showcased their potential as a useful tool for mediating the physical world and biological systems. We are developing nanomaterials that can serve as versatile transducers that convert one physical quantity into another form of biological signals or vice versa, which are now in use for biological imaging applications and/or for biological systems regulation. The distinct features are on-command capability, spatiotemporal controllability, remote activity, and molecular specificity, which provides our nanomaterials as attractive effector to develop novel nano-imaging and communication principles and soft-nanomachineries.
Super Resolution MRI Nano Probe
Magnetic nano probes for MRI contrast agent composed of polysaccharide and iron oxide, which circulate long time in blood vessels, allowing to achieve 100 micrometer spatial resolution in MRI. The super resolution MRI enables to visualize micro-vessels in mouse brain (picture left) and cardiac, which is clinically significant but hardly observable with current MR angiography.
Nano Probe for Target Identification and Characterization
Not only limited to imaging, the magnetic nano probe is capable to identify characteristics of the target. Recently developed Magnetic Resonance Tuning (MRET) principle enables magnetic nanoprobe to sense and monitor the molecular events happening in the target tissue (Shin et al. Nature Protocols 13, 2664 (2018); Choi et al. Nature Materials 16, 537 (2017)). For example, our nano probe can detect the level of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) secreted from the tumor and determine whether the tumor is metastatic or not.
Nanomachineries for Cancer Apoptosis
Magnetic nanomaterials are key components of nanomachineries, which acts as a transducer of magnetic field into mechanical force. This can be controlled spatiotemporally regulated manner with remote and on-command capabilities, which makes magnetic nano probes as adequate tools for regulating and actuating various biological signals (Kim et al. Accounts of Chemical Research 51, 839 (2018)). Single cell level actuation of apoptosis (programmed cell death) signal has been successfully demonstrated, potentiating to address mechanical signaling dynamics as well as in vivo therapeutic applications (Cho et al Nature Materials 11 1038 (2012); Cho et al. Nano Letters 16, 7455 (2016)).
Evolutionary Nanomaterials & Nanodevices: Working Group 2
Design of Programmable Nanomaterials with understanding nanoscale design principles for the synthesis of stimuli-responsive nanomaterials with adaptable and optimized properties
Synthesis of new functional nanomaterials is the key component of the Center. The concept of evolutionary nanomaterials is based on the idea that nanomaterials can undergo morphogenesis toward more complexed and energetically meta-stable state under certain stimulations including temperature, pH, electric field, biomolecules, etc. The transformed nanomaterials are expected to exhibit novel physical, chemical, and biological properties for further applications. We are currently perusing to understand the principles of nanomaterials formation and transformation processes and we have developed various types of magnetic/optical nanomaterials, and 2D layered structured materials.
Device that interfacing cell and nanomaterials is of critical importance for recording, monitoring, and actuating biological components. Ultra-flexibility compared to tissue, stretchability and transparency are the kay factors in designing devices for cell-device interfaces. For example, nanowire-based transistor device enables intracellular penetration of the tip of device for measuring/stimulating cells. Also, we are developing transparent smart contact lenses with wirelessly powered are developed to monitor glucose level with high sensitivity and accuracy (Park et al. Science Advances 4, eaap9841 (2018)).
Precision Nanomedicine: Working Group 3
Single cell & gene level imaging and functional control
Next generation nanomedicine can be enabled from understanding of nature of biological processes in molecular level including cell signals, cancer metabolism, neuronal networks, etc. Soft-nanobio machineries and nanodevice will be the essential tools and platform technology in this perspective which will further realize precision nanomedicine in diagnostics and therapeutics as well as health monitoring for prevention of diseases. We are pursuing developing nanoscience-based platform technology focused on the medical applications in genetic engineering, cancer, and neurosciences.
Conventional understanding of biology and medical practices needs breakthroughs and digital methods utilizing physical cues such as mechanical forces, heat, light, magnetic field, and electrical field can be interfaced with biological systems. The challenges are platform technology as a communicator of digital and analog conventional medicine. Interfacing machine and cell, biology, and human requires molecular and cellular approaches and the use of nanoscience and nanotechnology would be the fit-in technology to fill the gap between conventional medicine and digital cues.