Research Stories

Systematic Study of Non-impregnant Organ-specific Immunity to Identify Immunological Challenges

[Director of the SKKU CIRNO (SRC) Center]

Biological Sciences

  • Systematic Study of Non-impregnant Organ-specific Immunity to Identify Immunological Challenges
  • Systematic Study of Non-impregnant Organ-specific Immunity to Identify Immunological Challenges
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Until now, most immunological research has focused on lymphatic immunity centered in the primary and secondary lymphoid organs, such as bone marrow, thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes. However, recent sporadic research papers have demonstrated new immune cells discovered in non-lymphoid organs, which were not found in the lymphoid organs or tissues, such as liver, lung, kidney, and intestines. It was also disclosed recently that these non-lymphoid organs are maintaining immunosuppressive environments to prevent or protect themselves from the damage of internal or external inflammatory responses.

Professor Yong-Soo Bae, who was dedicated as a SKKU Distinguished Professor this time, has been studying for a long time with innate immune cells and related immune responses in these non-lymphatic organs. He established the <Center for Immune Research on Non-lymphoid Organ (CIRNO)> in 2017 and has been leading the research as the Director of the Center with the support of the Science Leading Research Center (SRC) grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea. He said that he would reserve no effort to identify many immunological challenges that could not be explained by lymphoid organ-restricted immune research, thus, pioneering a new academic field. In the Center, nine professors outstanding in the field of immunology (6 from SKKU and 3 from outside) conduct close joint research and collaboration to identify non-lymphoid organ-specific immune cells and their activity, and their mechanism of action with immune modulatory molecules. By elucidating new immune phenomena in non-lymphoid organs through innovative research, Prof. Bae and his colleagues would like to suggest a new alternative to the existing immunotherapy that was limited by lymphatic immune regulation.

In addition, Prof. Bae plans to develop a source technology for target-based disease control that can control cancer or inflammatory diseases by controlling key immune cells or immune modulatory molecules in non-lymphoid organs. This research plan was initiated based on his attention to the fact that the immunosuppressive environment of non-lymphoid organs can rather lead to the intractability of cancer and infectious diseases.

Last year, the Center published 20 papers in the top international journals and applied for 10 patents at home and abroad. This year, through joint research with Center-affiliated Professor Hyeyoung Kim of Seoul National University, Siglec F+ novel pathogenic neutrophils were found to induce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in mice exposed to pollutants and published two papers in the related journals, J Clin Invest (IF14.3) and J Aller Clin Immunol (IF14.3) Through a joint study with Center-affiliated Professor Yoe-Sik Bae, a unique phenotype of neutrophils was found to exist only in the lung and published in the Blood journal (22.11) In addition, through joint research with Center-affiliated Professor Yong-Taik Lim, the immune-enhancing and anti-cancer mechanism of a novel adjuvant that was developed by Prof. Lim was investigated and reported to a top academic journal, now in a revision process. Through joint research with three Center-affiliated professors, a newly developed immune cell population was identified in the spleen of mice when treated with a certain anti-cancer cytokine. We investigated the characteristics and induction mechanism of anti-cancer immunity of the cells and are in the submission process to a top journal.