Cancer Cell Motility Monitoring Device

A novel device for monitoring cancer cell motility in real time using standard microscopy.

The Need

Numerous cancer cells are capable of migration, resulting in metastasis of distinct organs and tissues from where the cancer first arose. Migrating cancer cells are known to directionally respond to applied electric fields, a phenomenon called electrotaxis, as well as topological cues provided by narrow microtracks < 10 m diameter. Tools to enhance our understanding of the mechanism of cancer cell migration are therefore critical in order to achieve the goal of preventing metastasis. However, there are a dearth of devices capable of assessing various stimuli on cancer cell motility using facile, real-time visualization methodologies.

The Technology

Dr. Jonathan Song and colleagues in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University have developed a novel device for real-time monitoring of cancer cell dynamics in situ, while simultaneously varying multiple stimuli. Compared to established migration chambers, this device allows cancer cell motility to be visualized in a planar field with conventional time lapse microscopy. Furthermore, the device possesses a readily scalable electrotaxis chambers for imaging of cell migration under well-defined electric fields and microscale topologies. The device is also compatible with chemokine gradients so that cell motility in response to different chemokine gradients can be observed. Finally, this device represents an optimal platform for high-throughput screening of cancer cell motility-impairing therapeutics.

Commercial Applications

  • Monitoring cancer cell dynamics in situ in real time in response to various stimuli
  • Platform for testing pharmacological agents developed to target cancer cell motility / metastasis
  • 3-D visualization of cancer invasion into porous matrices


  • Facile, real-time visualization of cell dynamics using conventional, planar field time lapse microscopy
  • Real-time chemotaxis measurements of cell motility
  • Incorporation of electric fields to observe their effects on cell motility
  • Compatible with 3-D high resolution microscopy for imaging the distribution and dynamics of intracellular complexes during migration
  • Cell collection reservoirs at opposite ends of the microtracks for further genotypic, phenotypic, and other molecular characterizations

Loading icon