It has now been believed that cell movement is mainly guided by variations in the chemical concentration of proteins and ions. However, a new finding published in the magazine Scientific Reports, and carried out by researchers from the Bioengineering Institute of Catalonia (IBEC), evidence that several types of cells are attracted to the most rigid areas of tissues, in what has come to be called collective durotaxis.
This discovery will open new avenues towards control of tumor expansion and to improve wound healing, as you can see in the following video:
A group of breast epithelial cells expands asymmetrically on a surface of increasing stiffness (to the right of the image). The colored lines indicate the trajectory of each cell (the green dots show the nuclei). Cells move faster and more directly towards the rigid part of the surface.
It is an example of what we call Collective intelligence: A group can carry out a task that its isolated individuals are unable to perform.
Scientists from the University of Barcelona (UB), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia BarcelonaTech (UPC), the University of Zaragoza, the Center for Biomedical Research in Respiratory Diseases Network (CIBERES) and the Center for Biomedical Research have also participated in the research in Network of Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN).