Human Tissue Culture Technology - Part I
Human Tissue Culture Technology - Part I
  • Kim Kyung-nam
  • 승인 2009.10.05 11:06
  • 댓글 0
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Kim Kyung-nam, CEO of Microdigital Co. Ltd.

"What makes you live on" Once in a while during a meeting with my old friends, I am asked this question. I respond with, "I live on machine sales and research."  The reply is often, "What kind of research Machine design"

I majored in mechanical engineering. Starting from undergraduate education I have spent approx. 20 years in the field of mechanical engineering. My specialty area is machine design and manufacturing. Totally different from my academic specialty area or Ph.D. thesis, I and my company's research team have a great interest in culturing technology: mammalian cell culture for the pharmaceutical industry, micro algae culture for the bio-diesel industry, and human tissue cell cultures for disease cures. Based on on-going research interests, I am going to answer the questions raised by my friends.

I am cured by my body. My body is the best medicine!

About Human Tissue Culture Technology

Shaolin Temples and Brain Surgery

Old-fashioned movies about Shaolin temples were popular quite a while ago. So-called Shaolin temple movies were about martial art masters who had practiced in temple. The Shaolin temple was like a necessary ingredient to the martial art movie. Even the cook from the Shaolin temple became a movie hero. Shaolin temple cooks were not only the best cook but also a martial arts master. He could cook delicious Chinese food while fighting against bad guys.

In a Shaolin temple movie when a martial arts master got injured, he got cured by Qi (or Gi) transferred from a high energy (or high Qi) person. But in ancient China there were trials of curing people not only by Qi transferrence but also by surgical operations. Even records on brain surgery are found during the Bodhidharma period, which is more than 1,500 years old, in actual Shaolin temples.

When an organ is injured and the medication is not effective any more, surgical incisions or new organ transplants are performed. Then, will there be any other curing method excluding transplants or incisions which have already been performed since the Bodhidharma period

Regenerative Medicine

Two methods are truly new: stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine including tissue engineering and cell therapy. Since stem cell therapy has raised many pros and cons, it will not be discussed here. Regenerative medicine from the mechanical engineering viewpoint will be the topic.

What is Regenerative Medicine In engineering terms, it is a technology that cures the injured part of a body such as a blood vessel by replacing it with a new one gained from culturing the same thing. In simple words, thanks to regenerative medicine my body can be cured by my body. In this case, it is natural to say that my body is the best medicine.

In the movie Men In Black, an alien was shot in his head. However, instantly he grew his head back again. It just sprang out from a blank neck. What an absurd scene!

With advancement of regenerative medicine, it may not be possible to replace the whole head, but it is technically possible to replace certain parts. For example, it is close to reality to replace a major blood vessel such as the main artery with a new one by culturing from a smaller one.

Bio-Compatible Cell Support Frame

Regenerative medicine or human tissue engineering technology has three major interesting research fields: cell sources, scaffolds (or bio compatible cell support frame), and bioreactors for culture environment and control. Of these, engineering interests are focusing on scaffolds and bioreactors.

Scaffold means the support frame which cell can be attached to and cultured in. Not like mammalian cells which are cultured by floating method, human tissue cell needs to be attached to a frame or scaffold to be cultured. Scaffolds have drawn many engineering and science interests and more about will be discussed in another article.

Bioreactor for Culture Environment and Control

Cells attached to the scaffold are loaded into the bioreactor for culturing which consists of culture chamber, culture media supply system and instrument control. In other words, bioreactor is to provide a suitable mechanical and chemical environment for cells to be grown.

Not like a culture chamber of which the design and function are dependent on the cell and scaffold type, i.e., cell and scaffold-specific chamber, the culture media supply system is more universal, i.e., less relevance to the cell or scaffold type.

The culture media supply system is to provide the cells with the media of suitable condition for culture. Then, what is the suitable condition It includes the temperature or heat supply, gas concentration such as dissolved oxygen, p.H, and CO2 level sustain in the media, chemical and biological nutrients supply and mixing these gases and liquids well and quickly.

Simply speaking, bioreactor is like our mouth, lung, stomach, liver and etc. It intakes gases and foods, mixes and digests well them and makes nutrients for living or culturing.

Culture chamber cultures cells attached to the scaffold by utilizing media from media supply system. However, is media or liquid with gases satisfying condition for cell culture

Martial art masters from ShaoLin temple have beautiful muscles thanks to not only nutrients but also exercise. While nutrients supply can be solely satisfied by media supply system, the exercise supply should be performed compulsory by culture chamber.

Exercise or mechanical stress to the cells inside the chamber is done by mechanically or electromagnetically. Mechanical stress to the cell can be achieved by applying tension or compression to the cell using mechanical devices such as motors or actuators or by using ultrasonic waves. Researchers are studying on the effects of magnitudes, directions and frequency of mechanical stresses on the growth of the cells. Electromagnetic stress can be obtained by supplying electromagnetic fields to the culture chamber. Whatever the nature of the stresses, cells need nutrients and exercise to be grown, just like ShaoLin temple master's muscle.

Mechanical engineering makes machines for people's life

Engineers during Bodhidharma period have made house and device for people's living. Mechanical engineers in today make instrument not only for people's living but also for life.

Series Schedule


Issue Title Subject
Sept Human Tissue Culture Technology – Part I  
Oct Human Tissue Culture Technology – Part II  
Nov Alternative Energy: Bio-diesel from Micro-algae  
Dec The Importance of Samples: Sample Archiving & Research D/B management for IT industry is highly important. What about samples for the biomedical industry
Jan What Are Bio Instruments The nature of medical instruments are well known. Then, what are bio instruments
Feb Idea and Technology Realizations Starting from an idea catch up, a prototype development process will be described from real experience.


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