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Lab Chip. 2009 Aug 21;9(16):2364-9. doi: 10.1039/b900791a. Epub 2009 May 14.

A cell migration device that maintains a defined surface with no cellular damage during wound edge generation.

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Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Studying the rate of cell migration provides insight into fundamental cell biology as well as a tool to assess the functionality of synthetic surfaces and soluble environments used in tissue engineering. The traditional tools used to study cell migration include the fence and wound healing assays. In this paper we describe the development of a microchannel based device for the study of cell migration on defined surfaces. We demonstrate that this device provides a superior tool, relative to the previously mentioned assays, for assessing the propagation rate of cell wave fronts. The significant advantage provided by this technology is the ability to maintain a virgin surface prior to the commencement of the cell migration assay. Here, the device is used to assess rates of mouse fibroblasts (NIH 3T3) and human osteosarcoma (SaOS2) cell migration on surfaces functionalized with various extracellular matrix proteins as a demonstration that confining cell migration within a microchannel produces consistent and robust data. The device design enables rapid and simplistic assessment of multiple repeats on a single chip, where surfaces have not been previously exposed to cells or cellular secretions.

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