dr. Junho Byun (PhD)

CRIG member
Junho Byun

Postdoctoral researcher - Lab for General Biochemistry & Physical Pharmacy, Dept. Of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Stefaan De Smedt (PhD)

Research focus

The microenvironment plays a crucial role in both the progression and treatment of various types of tumors. I am developing programmed drug delivery systems that can be activated by exogenous or endogenous stimuli within the tumor microenvironment.

Specifically, I have created stimuli-responsive delivery platforms that are activated by light or cold atmospheric plasma (CAP). These delivery systems aim to eradicate primary tumors and distant tumors by activating the immune microenvironment.

I developed a gold-DNA nanocluster for photo-immunotherapy targeting tumors. This system uses methylene blue intercalated within the gold-DNA nanocluster for dual-light activated photo-immunotherapy. By exploiting a CpG sequence as a template for DNA polymer, nucleic acids are delivered to dendritic cells, activating the tumor immune microenvironment and preventing distant tumor growth.

I also developed a programmed antigen-releasing hydrogel actuated by CAP irradiation. While previous clinical trials have used CAP for residual tumor removal, its limited penetration depth has restricted its effectiveness in treating primary tumors. Our findings show that the CAP-activated hydrogel system can sustain the release of tumor antigens and a TGF-beta inhibitor, leading to an increased anti-tumor immune response and the eradication of both primary and distant tumors. These results highlight the potential of the CAP-responsive in situ hydrogel system as a promising therapeutic platform to overcome the depth-related limitations of CAP in treating primary tumors.


Junho Byun is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stefaan De Smedt's lab at Ghent University in Belgium. He completed his Ph.D. at Seoul National University's Pharmaceutical Science Department in South Korea under the guidance of Prof. Yu-Kyoung Oh and Prof. Wooin Lee. He also worked as a Senior Researcher in Prof. Dae-Duk Kim’s lab at Seoul National University. His thesis focused on 'Programmed drug delivery systems activated in the fibrotic and tumor microenvironment.' Currently, his research involves developing targeted mRNA delivery carriers and a pulsed-laser mediated mRNA delivery system. He has secured the following grants:

  • 2023 Sejong Science Fellowship Grant - Overseas Training Track (Funded by NRF, Ministry of Science and ICT, Korea Government)
  • 2023 Ascending SNU Future Leader Fellowship (Funded by Seoul National University, South Korea)
  • 2022 BK Joint International Research Grant

Key publications

  • 'External cold atmospheric plasma-responsive on-site hydrogel for remodeling tumor immune microenvironment'. Biomaterials, 2023. (PMID: 37257401)
  • 'DNA-cloaked nanoparticles for tumor microenvironment-responsive activation'. Journal of Controlled Release, 2022. (PMID: 36037974)
  • 'DNA-based artificial dendritic cells for in situ cytotoxic t cell stimulation and immunotherapy'. Bioactive Materials, 2022. (PMID: 35386353)
  • 'Nanocomplex‐mediated in vivo programming to chimeric antigen receptor‐m1 macrophages for cancer therapy'. Advanced Materials, 2021. (PMID: 34510559)
  • 'Photosensitizer-trapped gold nanocluster for dual light-responsive phototherapy'. Biomedicines, 2020. (PMID: 33233655)
  • 'Biomimetic polymeric nanoparticle-based photodynamic immunotherapy and protection against tumor rechallenge'. Biomaterials Science, 2020, (PMID: 31994549)

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