Chemical biology news from across RSC Publishing.
Holey approach to wound healing research
19 May 2008
A device designed to monitor how cells move could help scientists understand cell migration, important in processes from embryonic development to wound healing and cancer metastasis. Developed by Chinese scientists, the team claims the microfluidic system could form the basis of high-throughput drug screens.
Holes in the cell monolayer (bottom left) are filled (stages shown clockwise) as cells migrate to heal the artificial wounds
Jing Cheng and colleagues at Tsinghua University, Beijing, made the lab-on-a-chip style device which creates artificial wounds and monitors the surrounding cells as they move to heal the wound.
Whilst wound assays are the most common way to measure cell migration rates, they are often based on optical measurements which are not quantitative and can suffer from low repeatability. The new method avoids these problems and 'the device is almost fully automated,' says Cheng.
The Chinese team tested the device by measuring the migration rates for four different cell types. In further experiments with the anti-migratory agent colchicine, the researchers demonstrated that the device can detect changes in cell migration rates caused by small molecule drugs. This suggests that it could be used in drug discovery, says Cheng.
'The cell migration assay on chip has important advantages compared to conventional methods such as being quantitative and real time,' says Helene Andersson Svahn, an expert in nano-biotechnology at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. 'It will be interesting to see the impact of this new technology in drug screening and cancer therapy, for example.'
Link to journal article
An automatic and quantitative on-chip cell migration assay using self-assembled monolayers combined with real-time cellular impedance sensing
Lei Wang, Jing Zhu, Cheng Deng, Wan-li Xing and Jing Cheng, Lab Chip, 2008, 8, 872
Also of interest
UK scientists provide fresh insight into the protein-mediated events behind wound healing.
Ulrich Schwarz, soft matter researcher at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, explains why softness matters for cells.
Issue 6, 2007 of Lab on a Chip is a special issue, 'Cell and Tissue Engineering in Microsystems' guest edited by Sangeeta Bhatia and Christopher Chen
Cell morphology and migration linked to substrate rigidity
Yong Ni and Martin Y. M. Chiang, Soft Matter, 2007, 3, 1285