POSTECH LabCumentary Seung Soo Oh (Materials Science & Engineering)
Biomolecular Materials Lab
Biomolecular Materials Lab
Seung Soo Oh (Materials Science & Engineering)
In creating brand new materials, we either combine existing materials or elements together or modify their structures and/or sizes, which manifests new properties. We may commonly think of metals or organic/inorganic compounds as the building blocks to develop such new materials. If we take this one step further, could we perhaps harness biological proteins, and for that matter, how about DNAs or RNAs?
The Biomolecular Materials Lab led by Professor Seung Soo Oh at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at POSTECH, explores the potential of biomolecules, especially sequence-controllable biopolymers, for the design and fabrication of diverse functional materials. Considering the fact that the amino acids that form proteins and the nucleic acids that serve as genetic information-carrying molecules in living organisms are innumerable and able to perform distinctive functions depending on their defined sequence, researchers at the Lab are working to create either completely new bio materials or ones that far exceed the performance of existing ones.
The Lab is specifically interested in the development of artificial antibodies constructed by systematic integration of nucleic acids with amino acids or synthetic enzymes fully made from DNA or RNA. This includes the possible application of ultra-sensitive affinity reagents, once developed, to the advanced diagnostics and therapeutics against coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), and artificial enzymes that aid in the modification of DNA or RNA, in opening a new venue of gene-editing research.
The researchers are also working on creating artificial ion channels that ensure specific ions to flow along the predetermined direction. As combining all kinds of artificial components, they ultimately aim to invent artificial cells.
In recognizing the research capabilities of the Biomolecular Materials Lab in molecular biology and synthetic biology, the Samsung Science & Technology Foundation has been supporting two different research projects: development of artificial cell membranes and protein-modifying DNA enzymes.
“At the Biomolecular Materials Lab, our researchers are given a chance to shatter the myth that DNA and RNA research belongs solely to the realm of biology and become pioneers and explorers themselves”, Professor Oh asserts, and adds “Our overarching aim is to assume an engineering approach to the emerging trend in biology, which is to regulate a life at will, towards creation of novel functional biomolecular materials.”
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