■ Biomedical device
A biomedical device is a tool used for medical purposes such as diagnosis and therapy. There are numerous biomedical devices to improve human health and welfare by altering pharmacological, metabolic, or immunological functions. To achieve fast, economic, non-invasive, and sensitive biomedical applications like diagnostics, treatment, and drug delivery, development of smaller scale medical device is demanding. We are interested in development and application of micro- or nano-scale biomedical devices such as micro-or nano-needles and various types of micro- or nano-implants.
■ Drug delivery
Drug delivery is the modulation of pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical administration for efficient therapeutic effect. In order to improve the efficacy, safety, and patient compliance of drugs, drug delivery researches have focused on how to reduce toxicity, increase absorption and distribution, and improve release profile. Various routes of delivery including oral, pulmonary, intranasal, intravaginal, and transdermal have been investigated, and we delve into advanced transdermal drug delivery.
■ Gene therapy
Genes are the basic molecular units of heredity of a living organism and achieve their functions by directing protein synthesis. Gene therapy is a technique for inserting, altering, or removing genes within cells and tissues. Generally, a normal gene is inserted into the genome to replace a disease-causing gene. The viral vector is considered the most common method for effective gene therapy, but it has safety issues. We are working on non-viral gene therapy including various physical methods such as electroporation, micro-or nano-particle carriers, and micro- or nano-needle gene delivery.
Due to upcoming energy crisis which results from a disruption of energy supplies and limitation of fossil fuels, biomass has been considered as a promising alternative for energy source. Biomass can be converted into other energy products such as biofuel and microalgae have been studied intensively as a critical candidate for biomass resources. Using our delivery technique, we can transform and screen best-performing strain of microalgae by inserting gene using micro-or nanoneedle or microelectroporation.
■ Vaccine research
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious disease. The recent outbreak of pandemic H1N1 influenza gave us a lesson how vaccines are critical for global health. However, current vaccine production systems and administration methods have several limitations. We focus on two aspects of vaccine research: optimization of recombinant vaccine production by genetic engineering and development of effective vaccine administration methods such as skin vaccination.
■ Antimicrobial peptide research
Antimicrobial peptides have been shown to kill microbes with impressive potency and specificity and developed as therapeutic agents for infectious disease treatment. Permeating peptides can also be applied as carriers for delivery of foreign substances into microorganisms. We study the novel application of antimicrobial peptide as a skin permeation enhancer and vaccine adjuvant. The mechanism of permeation enhancement and the adjuvant effects of antimicrobial peptides will be elucidated by various biological assays.
■ Smart biopolymers
Smart biopolymers have been increasingly used in biomedical applications such as drug delivery systems and tissue engineering. We are focusing on stimuli-responsive systems based on the synthesis of stimuli-responsive biopolymer for specific targeting delivery to various diseased sites such as tumor and diabetes. Now, we are working both on tumor targeting delivery and oral insulin delivery projects based on synthesizing smart biopolymers.
Yeu-Chun Kim (김유천)