Cellular Immunology Lab
Seung-Woo Lee (Life Sciences)
Immune cells are the only type of cells in the human body that circulate systematically. Moreover, these cells also fight against disease and are involved in varying physiological functions. As such, immunology research covers a broad range of areas – from interactions among immune cells to signal communications and mechanisms.
The Cellular Immunology Laboratory directed by professor Seung-Woo Lee at the Department of Life Sciences, POSTECH, probes into the nature of immune cells from both the basic and applied research aspects. Basic research aims to study how immune cells differentiate and function in such mucosal organs as the intestines or lungs, and applied research focuses on the efficacy and mechanism of cancer immunotherapy.
As part of its recent basic research endeavors, the Lab elucidated on how gut microbiota work to create white blood cells, which are a type of immune cell. There are more than 2,000 types of the hundreds of trillions of microorganisms residing within the human body. Most of these microorganisms can be found in the intestines and take part in the biological interactions that occur within our intestines, lungs, liver and brain. Researchers at the Lab explained the mechanism of hematopoiesis controlled by CX3CR1+ mononuclear cells in the bone marrow through the relay of systemic microbiota signals, and these findings graced the cover of the October 2019 issue of the internationally-acclaimed journal ‘Blood’.
An ideal application of its research would be in the exploration of mechanisms with new drug candidates under development within the bio industry. In June 2020, the Lab, in collaboration with ABL Bio, a Korean biomedicine manufacturer, published its research outcomes on the mechanism of a deployable bispecific antibody for cancer immunotherapy at the American Association for Cancer Research, the world’s largest cancer association. Authors involved in this research undertaking demonstrated that such bispecific antibodies that combine with two different antigens could attack target cancer cells while improving anti-cancer benefits.
Immunology research in earnest requires a thorough understanding of both bioengineering and basic medicine as well as regular testing on animals. Professor Lee pointed out that POSTECH is well-equipped to provide the infrastructure necessary for immunology research in Korea. He also stressed the importance of ‘self-motivation’ on the part of the researchers, a key attribute that could potentially outweigh even the most cutting-edge research environment. “Brilliant outcomes are generated only when the researchers themselves feel that the academic work they do is valuable and fascinating and take the initiative as such,” Professor Lee commented, adding that his role “is to serve as a mentor to drive self-motivation among students in a relaxed and creative environment, rather than forcing specific projects on them”.
Head of Lab
POSTECH Biotech Center 269