Creating innovative bio-convergent technologies for better human life

Biomaterials Engineering Laboratory
Ji Ho Park

Associate Professor

The research in the Biomaterials Engineering Laboratory (BEL) in the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is focused on the engineering of clinically relevant biocompatible materials that will exploit biological processes to detect and treat dysregulation of complex diseases. The recent interests of the BEL are in developing novel biosafe nanomaterials, understanding their interactions with biological microenvironments, and utilizing such nanotechnologies to enhance visualization, prevention, and treatment of cancer. The long-term goal of the BEL is to improve the function of living systems by designing materials, devices, and systems based on biological and non- biological components, or their hybrids. The BEL is an interdisciplinary research lab spanning the interface of materials science, chemistry, biology and medicine


The element symbol for silicon spelled out
on a fingertip with bio-friendly luminescent silicon nanoparticles

Translational Bio-friendly Materials

Biomaterials that can be introduced into the human body hold great potential to diagnose and treat disease. For such applications, it is important that the materials be harmlessly eliminated from the body in a reasonable period of time after they carry out their diagnostic or therapeutic functions. For example, despite efforts to improve their targeting efficiency, significant quantities of systemically administered nanomaterials are cleared by the mononuclear phagocytic system before finding their targets, increasing the likelihood of unintended acute or chronic toxicity. However, there has been little effort to engineer the self-destruction of errant biomaterials into non-toxic, systemically eliminated products. In the BEL, we are developing clinically relevant biosafe materials that can perform their unique biological functions without any toxicity concerns.


Use of phage display libraries to identify
peptides that home to the tumor.

Artificial Targeting Agents

The targeting efficacy of many imaging agents and anti-cancer drugs is limited by their poor binding to target tissues and by their adverse effects on healthy cells, which limits their doses that can be safely administered to cancer patients. The BEL screens libraries of random peptides to identify those that bind to specific disease. The peptides in the library are displayed on the surface of phage (a virus that infects bacteria), and the screening is done in vivo. When the library is injected into the circulation of a mouse, phage particles that display peptides capable of binding to a selected target tissue, such as a tumor, accumulate at the target where they can be collected and their peptide identified. By using the phase display technique, we are looking for tissue-specific peptides to increase targeting efficacy of diagnostic and therapeutic agents while reducing their side effects.


Generic architecture for bio-inspired nanosystem for amplified tumor targeting

Systems Nanotechnology

Over the past decade, widespread progress in nanotechnology has produced an impressive array of nanodevices with powerful electromagnetic and therapeutic properties. Nonetheless, our capacity to precisely home these targets in vivo has remained very limited and, despite three decades of research, ligand-targeted nanomedicines have yet to provide a benefit to patients. A fundamental limitation of current approaches to nanoparticle targeting is that they lack mechanisms of communication and amplification through which specific targeting events could assist the targeting of nanomaterials still in circulation. In the BEL, inspired by examples of communication in natural targeting systems, we are constructing a ‘nanosystem’ where multi-component, interactive nanomaterial systems are engineered to improve the sensing and treatment of diseases in vivo.


Paper-based vertical flow assays

We present vertical flow assays (VFAs) with multistep reactions based on the programmed reagent loading using a pressed paper [9]. In this work, a pressed paper was integrated into a 3D paper-based microfluidic device to simplify complicated operation principle of VFAs and to handle multistep reactions by delaying the flow. The reagent loading order was easily changed by controlling the amount of applied pressure as well as the geometry of the paper channel. By loading all reagents simultaneously, each reagent was loaded into the test regions in the programmed order. As a target analyte, high sensitive detection of C-reactive protein was demonstrated for the prediction of cardiovascular diseases in a clinically relevant rage (0.005–5 μg/mL) without Hook effect

Key Achievements
  • 1. "Cooperative Tumor Cell Membrane Targeted Phototherapy" Heegon Kim, Junsung Lee, Chanhee Oh, and Ji-Ho Park, Nature Communications (2017) 15880.
  • 2. “Liposome-Based Engineering of Cells to Package Hydrophobic Compounds in Membrane Vesicles for Tumor Penetration” Junsung Lee*, Jiyoung Kim*, Moonkyoung Jeong, Hyoungjin Lee, Unbyeol Goh, Hyaeyeong Kim, Byungji Kim, and Ji-Ho Park, Nano Lett. 15 (2015) 2938–2944 (*equal contribution).
  • 3. “Nanowire-Based Single Cell Endoscopy” Ji-Ho Park*, Ruoxue Yan*, Yeonho Choi, Chul-Joon Heo, Seung-Man Yang, Luke P. Lee, and Peidong Yang. Nature Nanotech. 7 (2012) 191-196 (*equal contribution).
  • 4. “Nanoparticles that Communicate In Vivo to Amplify Tumour Targeting” Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Ji-Ho Park, KevinY. Lin, Neetu Singh, Christian Schwöppe, Rolf Mesters, Wolfgang E. Berdel, Erkki Ruoslahti, Michael J. Sailor, and Sangeeta N. Bhatia, Nature Mater. 10 (2011) 545-552.
  • 5. “Cooperative Nanomaterial System to Sensitize, Target, and Treat Tumors” Ji-Ho Park, Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Mary Jue Xu, Valentina Fogal, Venkata Ramana Kotamraju, Erkki Ruoslahti, Sangeeta N. Bhatia, & Michael J. Sailor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 107 (2010) 981-986.
  • 6. “Biodegradable Luminescent Porous Silicon Nanoparticles for in vivo Applications” Ji-Ho Park, Luo Gu, Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Erkki Ruoslahti, Sangeeta N. Bhatia, and Michael J. Sailor, Nature Mater. 8 (2009) 331-336.

Achievement In This Year

  • 1. "In Vivo Cellular-level Real-time Pharmacokinetic Imaging of Free-form and Liposomal Indocyanine Green in Liver" Yoonha Hwang, Hwanjun Yoon, Kibaek Choe, Jinhyo Ahn, Jik Han Jung, Ji-Ho Park, and Pilhan Kim, Biomedical Optics Express 10 (2017) 4706-4716.
  • 2. "Surgical Suture Releasing Macrophage-targeted Drug-loaded Nanoparticles for Enhanced Anti-inflammatory Effect" Hansol Kim, Byung Hwi Kim, Beom Kang Huh, Yeon Chun Yoo, Chan Yeong Heo, Young Bin Choy, and Ji-Ho Park, Biomaterials Sci. 5 (2017) 1670-1677.
  • 3. "Exosome Classification by Pattern Analysis of Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Data for Lung Cancer Diagnosis" Jaena Park, Miyeon Hwang, ByeongHyeon Choi, Hyesun Jeong, Jik-Han Jung, Hyun Koo Kim, Sunghoi Hong, Ji-Ho Park, and Yeonho Choi, Anal. Chem. 89 (2017) 6695-6701.
  • 4. "Cooperative Tumor Cell Membrane Targeted Phototherapy" Heegon Kim, Junsung Lee, Chanhee Oh, and Ji-Ho Park, Nature Communications (2017) 15880.
  • 5. “Intratumoral depletion of regulatory T cells using CD25-targeted photodynamic therapy in a melanoma mouse model induces anti-tumoral immune responses" Dong Sun Oh†, Heegon Kim†, Ji Eun Oh, Hi Eun Jung, Yun Soo Lee, Ji-Ho Park*, and Heung Kyu Lee*, Oncotarget 8 (2017) 47440-47453.
  • 6. “Gold Nanorod-based Photo-PCR System for One-Step, Rapid Detection of Bacteria" Jinjoo Kim†, Hansol Kim†, Ji-Ho Park*, and Sangyong Jon*, Nanotheranostics 1 (2017) 178-185.
  • 7. “Liposomal Indocyanine Green for Enhanced Photothermal Therapy" Hwan-Jun Yoon*, Hye-Seong Lee*, Ji-Young Lim, and Ji-Ho Park, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 9 (2017) 5683–5691.
  • 8. “Mechanisms and Barriers in Cancer Nanomedicine: Addressing Challenges, Looking for Solutions" Thomas J. Anchordoquy, Yechezkel Barenholz, Diana Boraschi, Michael Chorny, Paolo Decuzzi, Marina Dobrovolskaia, Z. Shadi Farhangrazi, Dorothy Farrell, Alberto Gabizon, Hamidreza Ghandehari, Biana Godin, Ninh M. La-Beck, Julia Ljubimova, S. Moein Moghimi, Len Pagliaro, Ji-Ho Park, Dan Peer, Erkki Ruoslahti, Natalie J. Serkova, and Dmitri Simberg ACS Nano 11 (2017) 12–18.
  • 9. “Polypeptide-based polyelectrolyte complexes overcoming the biological barriers of oral insulin delivery" Yongjoon Jeong, Daeyong Lee, Kibaek Choe, Pilhan Kim, Ji-Ho Park, and Yeu-Chun Kim, J. Ind. Eng. Chem. 48 (2017) 79-87.
  • 10. “Effective Retinal Penetration of Lipophilic and Lipid-Conjugated Hydrophilic Agents Delivered by Engineered Liposomes" Junsung Lee*, Unbyeol Goh*, Hyoung-Jin Lee, Jiyoung Kim, Moonkyoung Jeong, and Ji-Ho Park, Mol. Pharm. 14 (2017) 423-430.