Korea IT Times Selects the South Korea’s Top Scientific and Technological Developments of 2016

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Sunday, December 25th, 2016

1. 560 breast cancer patients’ genomes decoded.


The study was supported by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the UK Wellcome Trust Foundation and the International Cancer Genome Consortium, and was jointly led by a team of medical professors from the Hanyang University School of Medicine and Stratton Ph.D. France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, and Iceland). Because genetic variations differ from patient to patient, a large pool of patient cases is necessary to understand the mechanism behind a specific type of cancer

2. Exobrain wins"Jang hak Quiz.


Exobrain, a language intelligence software ? a form of artificial intelligence ? developed by Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI)with domestic technology, won a quiz showdown with four human prodigies. On November 18, ETRI held the EBS television quiz show at the ETRI auditorium. Exobrain scored 510 out of 600 points, beating the second-place human by 160 points. ETRI held the contest to verify the level of first-stage technology developed over the first four years of the 10-year research period. The second and third stages of research will likely be completed by 2022. For phase two, ETRI is set to focus on developing applied technologies and achieving globally competitive performance for expert knowledge including counseling, legal areas, finances, and English.

3. Mapping the Korean genome.


A complete mapping of the genome for a Korean man in his thirties was carried outfor only the second time, thereby opening the doors to personalized medicine.SeoJeong Sun’s research team at Seoul National University and bio-venture company Macrogen published their results of the personal genome analysis in the publication Nature. The study is meaningful given the currentdirectionin the medical field to personalize medical treatment; once popularized, the technique would allow patients to receive treatment based on such things as their gender and race. Disease prevention would be another application.

4. The discovery of a new way to eliminate “super bacteria.
The rise of the so-called super bacteria is posing a serious health risk, as they are resistanteven to the most powerful antibiotics.A research team at Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology led by Dr. Ryu Cheung Min and a Yonsei University-based research team led by Prof. Yong Dong Eun found that adding a small amount of the anticancer agentnetropsin, to an pre-existing antibiotic, polymyxin, effectively eliminates the super bacteria, even at 1/8th of the polymyxin concentration. The super bacteria used in the study was Acinetobacterbaumannii, a multidrug-resistant organism and the culprit behind the largest number of deaths in Korea. Their results were published in the online journal Scientific Reports.

5. Development of total Pollack fish farming technique.


In response to disappearing pollack populations in the East Sea and as part of their “Save the Pollack Project,” since 2014, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries succeeded in developing the world's first total aquaculture (“fish farming”) of pollack.The artificially fertilized eggs were produced and hatched, then raisedby their mother, after which more fertilized eggs were produced to continue this cycle.530,000 fertilized eggs were procured from a female pollack caught in the wild for the first-ever artificially produced stock. Japan’s efforts at a similar endeavor fell short, but Korea’s success can be attributed to a concentrated effort by the Korean government. As a result, we will probably see a return of the “Korean Pollack” to our dinner tables by 2018, despite their dangerously low numbers today.

6. Development of the world's most efficient and bending perovskite solar cell and identification of deterioration mechanism.


The Multi-scale Energy System Research Group led by Prof. Choi Man Soo of Seoul National University developed a high efficiency solar cell that can be mounted on curved surfaces by applying new materials to next generation solar cell technology. In February, the researchers developed a high-efficiency perovskite solar cell that replaced expensive transparent electrodes with graphene. They also uncovered the root cause of the decline in perovskite solar cell lifetimes. This knowledge and can be applied to produce low-cost, flexible, light-weight andmore flexible and wearable electronic devices.

7. New genetic scissors technology applied to Mouse DNA editing.


Korean researchers successfully applied new genetic scissors to mice. Kim Dae-sung, professor at Seoul National University's Chemistry Department and Professor Lee Sang-wook of Ulsan University teamed up with Nature Biotechnology to create a mutant mouse with gene scissors using a new protein enzyme (Cpf1) to show the effectiveness of the new genetic scissors, which is more accurate and efficient than conventional gene scissors.Genetic scissors is a technique to arbitrarily calibrate genes using specific enzymes.

8.Solar drones succeed in world's third stratospheric flight.


Solar unmanned drones developed by domestic researchers succeeded in entering the stratosphere for the third time in the world. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute has said that the "high-altitude solar unmanned aerial vehicle" (EAV-3), which flies only by solar energy, succeeded in flying at a stratospheric altitude of 18.5 km for 90 minutes. After reaching 14.12 km last year, it recorded a 4 km higher flight altitude. The atmospheric density and temperature are too low in the stratosphere for conventional aircraft to fly. However, the weak winds and lack of clouds mean that sunlight can be used as a power source.

9. Identification of autophagy control signals essential for cancer treatment.


A team led by Prof. Baek Sung-Hee, from Seoul National University, has identified the autophagic regulatory signal that maintains cell survival and homeostasis. Autophagy is responsible for the degradation of unwanted proteins and damaged organs inside the cell. The research team identified key protein-related variances and concluded that regulation of gene expression in the nucleus is important for autophagy function and identified. This discovery is expected to provide a basis for the development of cancer and degenerative brain disease drugs in the future. These results were published in Nature.

10. World's first 10-nanometer process system semiconductor mass production. 


11. Development of the world's fastest molecular regulatory technique.


A technique has been developed to quickly catch and disappear molecules that appear and react to desired chemical reactions during the chemical reaction of the first-life reaction intermediates. Kim Dong-pyo, professor at Pohang University of Science and Technology, developed the world's first technology capable of controlling the reaction time of molecules to 1/100th of a second.
The team designed and built a microreactor. When the team started a chemical reaction in the reactor, it was confirmed that only the desired compound was produced when the reaction time was shorter than 1/10,000th of a second. The results of the study are published inScience magazine. This technology could be the base for producing economical, high purity drugs and chemicals in the future.

12. Successful development of next-generation memory material.


The new material for next generation memory storageuses 1/10th of the power consumption of the current material and is expected to increase the functionality of next generation semi conductors. Prof. Park Byung-kuk of KAIST and Prof. Kyung Jin Lee of Korea University were successful in developing technology to increase the operation speeds of next generation of magnetic memory (MRAM) and data integration (data capacity).

13. Development of precise measurement technology of high dielectric constant material.

A Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) team led by Dr. Hong Young Pyohas developed the world 's first precision measurement technology of' high permittivity material 'using terahertz waves in a collaborationwith the National Institute of Physics (NPL). This technology allows accurate measurement and characterization of materials with high dielectric constant, but in order to use terahertz wave in industrial field, precisely measuring the 'electromagnetic wave material constant' of the transmission object crucial. The researchers say the technology can be widely used in many industries, including food safety management, medical imaging, security, and the semiconductor industry. The results of the study were published in Electronic Letters (The IET).

14. Genome decryption of experimental animal “African clawed frog.”

An international team of researchers, including a team of Korean scientists, deciphered the genome of the African clawed frog, an experimental animal for over 100 years. African toenail frogs are used for studies on in vitro fertilization, as it is easy to reproduce hundreds of large eggs with a diameter of 1 mm and is also easy to control gene expression. It is used in various fields such as embryology, cell biology, and biochemistry. The use of frogs as a new model for studying human diseases, such as cancer is expected to increase. An international collaborative research team, led by Professor Kwon Tae-jun, Professor of Life Sciences at Ulsan University of Science and Technology (UNIST), identified 40,000 genes and genomes of African claw frogs at chromosomal levels and also labeled them. Their findings were the cover report inNature. The study was a large-scale project involving 60 people from seven countries, including the US, Japan, and South Korea.

15. KW330 billion technology transfer and commercialization of Blood-based “Dementia Early Diagnosis Technology.