Research

We revolutionize the way diseases are analyzed, detected, and managed

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Imaging disease-causing cell-cell interactions

Cancer and neurodegenerative diseases are highly heterogeneous. Diverse cell types, their spatial organization, and interactions between them in the local environment determine disease progression but it is currently difficult to obtain these crucial information. We aim to overcome this limitation by developing a live-imaging assay for an organoid derived from the patient tissue. We will combine advanced 3D imaging techniques, CRISPR-labeling of patient cells, and the cutting-edge organoid culture techniques. By visualizing how diverse cells are organized in space, and which types of cell-cell interactions are enriched (e.g. immune cell – cancer cell interaction), we seek to understand the disease mechanism and help design personalized medicine.

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Detecting disease biomarkers from blood / body fluids

Liquid biopsy is a non-invasive technique that can detect disease biomarkers (i.e. nucleic acids, proteins, small molecules) in blood and other body fluids. As more biomarkers are being discovered through the next-generation sequencing technology (e.g. cell-free DNA, RNA, microRNA), the capability of a simple point-of-care (POC) molecular diagnostic assay is expanding. We aim to advance molecular diagnostics by using/improving novel enzymes such as CRISPR-Cas system for DNA/RNA detection. We also seek to develop a miniaturized enzyme-chip that can simultaneously detect multiple different targets with a high sensitivity. Advanced POC techniques we develop will help prevent severe illnesses by early disease detection and preventive care.

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Collecting rare cells from the patient blood

Blood circulating rare cells are important for disease diagnosis and therapies. Circulating tumor cells (CTC) are important markers for cancer metastasis. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) are promising candidates for treatment in solid tumors but they are found only at a minimal level in the peripheral blood. Despite their importance, a limited amount of blood obtained in the clinic (1-10 mL) makes it difficult to isolate those rare cells. We aim to develop a lab-on-a-chip platform that adheres to the skin and gains access to the circulating blood for hours or even days, thus efficiently collecting rare cells from the large volume of blood. Our ultimate goal is to create a real-time blood monitoring system that works at a molecular and cellular precision.