Professor Heemin Kang’s group developed real-time remote immunoregulation technology, opening avenues to provide customized medical service to patients
Research published in Nature Communications, an authoritative international journal
▲ Professor Heemin Kang, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
A new nanotechnology-based remote-controlled material is drawing attention as a promising technology for providing customized medical service to patients in areas such as immune regenerative medicine.
The result of the study, led by Professor Heemin Kang of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was published in this month’s issue of Nature Communications, an authoritative international journal.
- Title of article: Immunoregulation of macrophages by dynamic ligand presentation via ligand–cation coordination
In modern medicine, implants are necessary to treat various diseases or supplement various body functions. Numerous types of such implants have been developed for medical applications, including pacemakers, stents, electronic devices, optical devices, aesthetic materials and artificial tissue substitutes. However, all implants, being foreign to the human body, cause an immune response, and a failure to control this response may render the implants useless or result in a disability in a patient, even to the degree of threatening the patient’s life.
The immune response of the human body to an implant is governed by the attachment, detachment and polarization of macrophages. The M1-type polarization of macrophages causes inflammation, while the M2-type polarization suppresses inflammation and enhances tissue regeneration. Therefore, the real-time control of the attachment, detachment and polarization of macrophages may allow for a customized medical service by which the immune response to an implant is remotely controlled depending on the patient’s condition. This technology was developed by Professor Kang’s group and reported for the first time.
In this study, metal-ligand complex nanodimers were formed through self-assembly by using magnesium (Mg2+) in the body and by injecting the bisphosphonate (BP) ligand that is utilized in clinics. In addition, the attachment of the produced nanoscale self-assembly to macrophages was induced. The self-assembled nanoparticles may be decomposed by injecting a chelate utilized in clinics, which allows for easy and reversible attachment and detachment of macrophages within 10 minutes. The study showed that the inclusion of the RGD ligand, which may be attached to the self-assembled nanoparticles, enhances the attachment to macrophages and the tissue regenerative M2-type polarization and suppresses the inflammatory M1-type polarization.
▲ Schematic diagram of real-time remote control of immune response to an implant through control of the reversible attachment, detachment and polarization of macrophages based on a swift, convertible and harmless nanoassembly.
In addition, Professor Kang recently published an article in Advanced Materials (Impact factor: 21.950; October 2018), showing that the technology for the nanoassembly remote control enables the regulation of stem cell differentiation and thus can be applied to regenerative medicine.
Professor Kang commented on the significance of the research and his future plans: “The technology we have developed enables the swift and convertible nanoassembly of substances that are harmless to the human body and can be applied to immunology and regenerative medicine. We will develop new nanomaterials that will enable us to perform real-time remote control of immune responses by using nanoassembly and a magnetic or optical method in order to realize various customized medical services for patients.”