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Unexpected discovery of the ways cells move could boost understanding of complex diseases
Date:6/23/2013

risingthat the cells, in addition to moving forward, continued to pull themselves collectively back toward the gel, as if yearning to fill the unfilled space. The researchers dubbed this movement "kenotaxis," from the Greek words "keno" (vacuum) and "taxis" (arrangement), because it seemed the cells were attempting to fill a vacuum.

This new finding could help researchers better understand cell behaviorand evaluate potential drugs to influence that behaviorin a variety of complex diseases, such as cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, developmental abnormalities, and glaucoma. The finding could also help with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, both of which rely on cell migration.

In carcinomas, for instancewhich represent 90% of all cancers and involve epithelial cellsthe new information on cell movement could improve understanding of how cancer cells migrate through the body. Asthma research could also get a boost, because scientists think migration of damaged epithelial cells in the lungs are involved in the airway narrowing caused by the disease.

"Kenotaxis is a property of the cellular collective, not the individual cell," said Jae Hun Kim, the study's first author. "It was amazing to us that the cellular collective can organize to pull itself systematically in one direction while moving systematically in an altogether different direction."


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Contact: Marge Dwyer
mhdwyer@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-8416
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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