Tracking Cells in Three Dimensions

Cell migration plays a role in virtually all biological processes. The migration of cells is generally only studied in two dimensions on flat substrates even though cells normally exist in a three-dimensional environment. Using a novel laser microfabrication technique Mazur, Mooney and coworkers have manufactured synthetic 3-D matrices (top) that make it possible to directly observe cell migration in three dimensions and help understand cell migration in the broader field of tissue engineering to study various physiological and pathological processes. The ability to predict cell migration will permit controlling this process to either promote migration (for example, in tissue regeneration) or inhibit it (for example, in tumor metastasis).

David A. Weitz (Physics & Applied Physics)
Cynthia M. Friend (SEAS)
Prakriti Tayalia,
David Mooney, and
Eric Mazur
Harvard MRSEC (DMR-0820484)