Technology to select and stain only ‘bad’ macrophages that help cancer progression has emerged

A research team led by Professor Jang Young-tae from the Department of Chemistry at POSTECH has developed a technology that can selectively stain fluorescent macrophages that help cancer progression./POSTECH

A research team in Korea has developed technology that can selectively stain and monitor cells that help cancer progression. Differentiation of live human cells is expected to be widely used in related fields as it is important not only for clinical diagnosis but also for finding treatment for infection or inflammation.

POSTECH announced on the 19th that “Researchers including Professor Jang Young-tae from the Department of Chemistry, Research Professor Gangnam-young from the Department of IT Convergence Engineering, and Research Professor Hwa-young Kwon from the Department of Chemistry has developed a technology that can selectively stain M2 macrophages which help cancer progression.” The results of the research were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, one of the most prestigious academic journals in the field of chemistry, in January .

M1 and M2, representative macrophages, capture and digest bacteria and transmit immune information to lymphocytes, but have opposite characteristics. M1 attacks cancer by engulfing bacteria or tumors, but M2 helps cancer progress by silencing the activated immune response.

Therefore, recently, a new method of treating cancer by switching macrophage M2 to M1 has emerged. However, until now, it has been difficult to distinguish between live M1 and M2 and to monitor M2 in real time.

The research team designed a technology that can selectively stain M2 macrophages using a ‘fluorescent probe’. A fluorescent probe refers to a photosensitive agent that indicates whether a particular ion or substance is recognized by a light signal when it is recognized.

The research team developed CDg18, a selective fluorescent probe that distinguishes between M1 and M2 by detecting the fatty acid transporter favored by M2. CDg18 was able to demonstrate the process of changing M2 in real time after treating a substance that converts M2 to M1.

In October 2022, the research team developed and published CDr17, a fluorescent probe that selectively stains M1. Professor Jang said, “Using the M2 probe developed in this study and the existing M1 probe, it is possible to visually observe the distribution of M1 and M2 in cancer tissue and their changes.” It’s technology,” he said.

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