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Cells on expansion course: the Stuttgart scientists initially only released a ring-shaped area of substrate, on which cells can grow, by irradiating a polymer layer with UV light through a corresponding ring-shaped photomask. Consequently, the cells initially formed a ring with a diameter of almost 300 micrometres. When the researchers released the remaining substrate from the polymer layer using a second UV pulse – indicated by the arrow – the cells spread in just a few hours. © MPI for Intelligent Systems

Cell movement patterns

A method that enables scientists to grow cells on easily generated fine structures provides new insights into cell migration

  • 08 March 2012

Whereas a cut knee often reduces children to tears, adults are more likely to be distressed by the fear of cancer. In both cases, that is wound healing and the growth and spread of tumours, a particular characteristic of the body’s cells plays a crucial role: their capacity to move in their tissue environment. Together with colleagues from Japan, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart and the University of Heidelberg have developed a very promising method for the study of cell movement. The new method enables the examination of the collective behaviour of small groups of cells in an environment that imitates living tissue. Using this new method, the Stuttgart cooperative project was able to study the collective spreading behaviour of epithelial cells in the early stages of healing processes. The information gained from this study confirms the potential offered by the new method in generating new insights into cell migration, a process that has been under investigation for decades.


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