Advent of Geometrically Controlled Micro-tissue
Professor Shin Heung-soo (Department of Bioengineering)
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When certain parts of a human body are damaged, the only treatment is to take medication to either halt the worsening or alleviating the agony. However, medical technology to fully recover the organs by developing thermally expandable hydrogels (a network of polymer chains that are hydrophilic, often used for the care of wounds) is becoming potential. Professor Shin Heung-soo of the Department of Bioengineering has lighted upon the possibility to control the cell patterns to harvest geometrically regulated micro-tissue through his research “Microcontact printing of polydopamine on thermally expandable hydrogels for controlled cell adhesion and delivery of geometrically defined microtissues.”
The fundamental finding of this research is that human cells can function through metabolism and, thus, can also generate spontaneous curative powers. “The main theme of our research is that we discovered our own method to discharge the damaged cells and entirely recover and replace them back to where they belong,” said Shin. The research team utilized the hydrogels to transfer the cells by patterning the polydopamine. PD (polydopamine) is an important substance in this research which is formed by oxidation of dopamine often used for coating various surfaces.
Until now, the medical industry’s best option to treat damaged cells or organs made up of them was to inject cells floating inside a culture fluid (the fluid used as a medium for growing microorganisms). However, Shin’s research is now stepping ahead to actually maintaining the patterns and shapes of actual cell structure and transferring them into the human body. “My research can resemble the method of a paper tattoo. When you get a paper tattoo, you apply a paper with a desired picture, drop water on it, and, after some time, the picture is embedded onto the skin cells. My discovery works the same way in that the paper is hydrogel,” stated Shin. The main focus of this research is that not only is the hydrogel transferring the basic patterns but also shapes. The transfer of shapes in the three-dimensional form, requires a specific code and environment of the cells’ patterns and placement. Through experiments with artificial models and mice, the research was proven to be valid in that micro-tissues were readily translocated in vivo to the subcutaneous tissue of mouse.
This extensive research took one year to complete by Shin and his two doctoral students. The research began with their considerate worry concerning the aging society. “As the population is aging with a higher average life expectancy, people are constantly suffering from chronic diseases and degenerative conditions. To solve this problem, instead of stopping diseases from worsening, I began this research,” said Shin.
Before Shin’s research, the only possible method to entirely cure or recover damaged organs was by internal organ transplant. However, the medical and technological fields can now expect to cure endemic, chronic diseases eternally. “I have researched in this field for about 20 years under the belief that science and medicine will be able to treat humans for good,” revealed Shin.
Shin’s ultimate hope is to furnish his developed micro-tissue technology to easily accessible places like hospitals and pharmacies. “In this Fourth Industrialization era, I can now graft new technologies like 3D printing skills or big data to produce efficient and exquisite results,” emphasized Shin. “Even though South Korean society highlights the importance of living a stable, routinized life, I believe that our Hanyangian students have inexhaustible ideas and potential. I hope our future generation will be able to utilize their ideas and dream bigger!”
Kim Ju-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kang Cho-hyun
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