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The Spirit of Challenge: Stem Cell Therapy for Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Kim Ha-jin  |  hajinkim99@hanyang.ac.kr
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[349호] 승인 2021.03.02  
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On December 1 8 , 2 0 2 0 , P r o f e s s o r Kim Seung-h y u n o f t h e D e p a r t m e n t 
of Neurology from Hanyang U n i v e r s i t y (HYU) Medical School, received a commendation from the Minister of Health and Welfare for his contribution to domestic and foreign patients care by commercializing Lou Gehrig’s stem cell therapy. He has been especially interested in developing a new treatment for intractable neurological disorder as the head of Hanyang Cell Therapy Center (HYCTC) and Dementia Support Center in Seongdong-gu, Seoul.

Q. Could you share your impression on receiving commendation from the Minister of Health and Welfare? 

A. I’ve been researching amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease for the past 27 years. The commercialization of the world’s first stem cell therapy for Lou Gehrig’s Disease as well as biomarker discovery, genome analysis, and future strategy of customized medicine was well appreciated. I would like to give my honor to a team of neurologists, nurses, and preclinical research in HYU who have supported me. 

Q. Please explain your research work on the gene responsible for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

A. Our team has published the discovery that genetic mutation of Lou Gehrig’s disease patients in Korea is variant from the West in the renowned journal. That is, the most common genetic mutation in the West is the C9ORF72 genetic mutation. However, there is no such mutation in Korea. Instead, SOD1 genetic mutation is common among Korean patients. The finding provides an opportunity for domestic patients to be offered customized treatments. 

Q. What inspired you to dive into a field of rare intractable diseases including Lou Gehrig’s disease?

A. Since a younger age, I have had a belief that Lou Gehrig’s disease was an area where I could burn my will to challenge new fields which were not done by others. Most of all, after attending Lou Gehrig’s patient community, I was able to comprehend the patients’ minds and harsh situations from the bottom of my heart. I decided to research into this field because I wanted to make a new treatment for patients who are alienated but desperate. 

Q. What message do you want to send to HYU students?

A. It is necessary to create a dignified academic tradition in which professors and students respect each other as well as make steady efforts. You should have the passion and responsibility to consistently strive for the basis of your studies. If so, HYU students all have the potential to make great contributions to the country’s future. I sincerely hope every student in HYU behaves by their own balanced belief.

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