The Kim laboratory is working on bioprocessing expansion of cancer stem cells to better assist translational medicine. Cancer stem cells, or CSCs, are considered the stem cell-like pluripotent cancer cells that cause relapse in patients even after the most rigorous treatment. Pharmaceutical companies, however, typically use several decades-old cancer cell lines during their drug development because, among many reasons, (1) CSCs are difficult to acquire and (2) are limited in number.
It is becoming increasingly recognized, however, that drug development must be based on CSCs to develop better drugs that target the “real culprit” in tumors. Therefore, the work at the Kim Laboratory aims to bridge the oncologists with the engineers by developing large scale quantities of CSCs using bioengineering principles and various biology tools for the mass production of CSCs from primary patient tissues and cell culture. By doing so, they hope to assist in drug development by providing a more relevant and closer-to-clinic resource of cancer cells.