[Researcher of the Month] A New Association Between Muscle and Metabolic Syndrome
Professor Jun Dae-won (College of Medicine)
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According to the National Institution of Health (NIH), metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. As metabolic diseases become more prevalent over the past few decades, researchers have been working to figure out the underlying cause. Professor Jun Dae-won (College of Medicine) has made a breakthrough over this field by discovering its association with muscle health.
“As people get older, they tend to lose muscle mass. This increases the risk of falls, which might cause the death of the elderly,” said Jun. “However, most of the researchers did not acknowledge why muscular issues lead to the aggravation of metabolic diseases.” Jun’s team, in collaboration with Professor Kim Ji-young’s team, made progress on finding the links between muscle and metabolic syndrome.
What caught Jun's eyes was psoas muscle, which is an internal muscle of the loin. Jun made use of this muscle, as it is widely known to be proportional to the total muscle mass. Jun collected 1000 PET-CT (Positron emission tomography–computed tomography) images on psoas muscle and kept an eye on glucose inside the muscle. Jun found out that Fluorine‐18‐labelled fluoro‐2‐deoxy‐d‐glucose (18F‐FDG) uptake of psoas muscle is a promising surrogate marker for existing and incipient metabolic derangement.
Jun admitted that he could not eliminate all confounding variables, despite endless efforts to minimize them. "There are limitations in clinical trials, as it is not easy to find action mechanisms through these tests. That is the reason why we went abreast with animal testing and cell experiment,” explained Jun. “There may be some hindrance in interpretation due to differences between human and laboratory animals. But they still provide clues to action mechanisms.” Thus, he stated his plans to work on the revalidation of the research, digging deeper into the degree of association.
Jun highlighted the importance of being industrious and strong-minded. “My original research intended to find the relation between liver function and metabolic syndrome,” said Jun. “Unfortunately, I could not draw meaningful results.” Jun was on the verge of giving up the research. It was his continuous subgroup analysis that led to eureka. Just as what people say, sometimes coincidence is a plan in disguise.
Oh Kyu-jin firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Ju-eun
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