Cell Migration, Cell Invasion & Wound Healing Explained

Cell migration is an extremely complex phenomenon. A motile single cell, or multicell aggregate, that penetrates through the extracellular matrix of neighboring tissues can be described as invasive. Cells grouped into coherent sheets, strands, or tubes may undergo a form of collective cell migration governed by tight intercellular connections. The former mechanism is characteristic of metastatic growth, while the latter is associated with wound healing. How can seemingly similar cellular mechanisms result in such dramatically different outcomes?

Principles of Cell Migration

Platypus Technologies is a fast-growing provider of cell migration assays for precise and reproducible experimentation, from academia to the pharmaceutical sector. Our core competency revolves around the cell exclusion zone technology, an innovative, high-throughput cellular assay with real-time monitoring capabilities, and negligible margins of error. This represents a significant step forward for researchers in various clinical fields.

Cell Migration Assay Applications: Pharma Industry

Dynamic cellular migration is of interest to biochemists in various areas of research and development (R&D). This process refers to the movement of individual cells or cellular clusters from one location to another, typically in response to some chemical or mechanical signal. Pharmaceutical companies have been particularly invested in studying cell migration and invasion as these processes underlie an extremely wide range of pathological phenomena – thus offering significant promise for generating valuable pharmacological interventions.

Cell Migration Assay Applications: Research

Understanding cellular invasion and migration is important for studying a wide range of biological processes. By observing the directed rate of movement of cells in response to chemical or mechanical signals, researchers can investigate processes as varied as metastasis and wound healing. Historically, this has proven difficult due to a lack of efficient and reproducible methods for quantitatively assessing cell migration.

What is a Cell Migration Assay?

Cellular migration refers to the movement of cells from one location to another, usually in response to some chemical or mechanical signal. It is fundamental to an extremely wide range of organic processes, from the developmental (i.e. embryogenesis) to ongoing biological maintenance (i.e. tissue repair). Using a cell migration assay, it is possible to measure the net migration and rate of migration for cellular populations in vitro and thus gain an understanding of various bioorganic mechanisms.

Scanning Tunneling Microscopy of Ultra-flat Gold Surfaces

New STM imaging study reveals stunning atomic-scale details on Ultra-flat Gold Surfaces.

Ultra-flat gold surfaces enable high signal-to-noise imaging for AFM and STM applications.  Because of their ultra-smooth topography, these surfaces have been used to study 2D materials, single strands of DNA, self-assembled monolayers, nano-plasmonic devices, and cell membrane monolayers.    

Cell Invasion Assays for Cancer Research

Cell invasion across the basement membrane is an important step in cancer metastasis.  Metastasis occurs when cancer cells pass through the basement membrane of the organ where they originated, and subsequently spread into different organs of the body, where they form secondary tumors [1].  

Comparison of the Oris Cell Migration Assay to the Scratch Assay

Cell migration is integral to many physiological processes, including embryonic development, tissue regeneration, and wound healing.  In addition, cell migration is involved in tumor metastasis and atherosclerosis.[1]  One assay commonly used to study cell migration in vitro is the scratch assay.  The scratch assay is performed by creating a cell-free gap, or “scratch”, on a confluent cell monolayer upon which cells at the edge of the opening move inward to close the scratch.  Cell migration can be assessed by comparing images captured at the onset of the scratch creation and at user-defined intervals during scratch closure.  The scratch assay is straightforward to perform and is inexpensive.  However, methods for creating the scratch vary from lab to lab and results can be highly variable.  Furthermore, the process of scratch formation has been shown to damage the underlying extracellular matrix (ECM).[2] 

Counting Cells in Migration Assays with ImageJ

This application note describes a method to measure cell migration, using ImageJ, by counting the number of cells that have migrated into the Detection Zone in an Oris™ Cell Migration Assay. ImageJ is a freeware image analysis program developed at the National Institutes of Health (https://imagej.nih.gov/ij/).

Cells on the Move: Do surface coatings influence cell migration?

Experiments show that surface coatings play an important role in cell movement

When performing cell migration experiments, a perennial question is: what surface coatings should be used to culture a particular cell type? Scientists working in Cancer Research, Wound Healing, or Drug Discovery utilize cell cultures to make important experiments and advance our understanding of biological mechanisms.  In particular, assays for cell migration enable characterization of conditions and substances that influence movement of cells.  For example, scientists using the OrisTM Cell Migration Assays successfully identified proteins, mRNA and antioxidants that inhibit migration of tumor cells.