Our bodies have highly regulated and integrated systems. One such system, the TGF-β cell signaling pathway, regulates many developmental processes. A malfunctioning TGF-β pathway is implicated in many diseases, including cancer, developmental defects, and kidney disease. Typically this is due to a problem in the regulatory system that says when to activate TGF-β. Because it is involved in so many cellular processes, scientists are interested in finding ways to control TGF-β activation.
Professor Xiang Chen, graduate student Liang Lin and undergraduate student Ling Liu, along with a team of researchers from Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Harvard Medical School have found a way to activate TGF- β using near infrared (NIR) irradiation by combining the small latent complex (SLC) formed from TGF- β and its latency-associated peptides with a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT). Their work, which investigates both in vitro and in vivo systems, is published in Nature Nanotechnology.