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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2010, Article ID 363106, 7 pages
Review Article

How Do Cells Make Decisions: Engineering Micro- and Nanoenvironments for Cell Migration

1Centre for Vascular Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052 NSW, Australia
2School of Chemistry, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052 NSW, Australia

Received 12 March 2010; Accepted 1 April 2010

Academic Editor: Claudia D. Andl

Copyright © 2010 Siti Hawa Ngalim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cell migration contributes to cancer metastasis and involves cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM), force generation through the cell's cytoskeletal, and finally cell detachment. Both adhesive cues from the ECM and soluble cues from neighbouring cells and tissue trigger intracellular signalling pathways that are essential for cell migration. While the machinery of many signalling pathways is relatively well understood, how hierarchies of different and conflicting signals are established is a new area of cellular cancer research. We examine the recent advances in microfabrication, microfluidics, and nanotechnology that can be utilized to engineer micro- and nanoscaled cellular environments. Controlling both adhesive and soluble cues for migration may allow us to decipher how cells become motile, choose the direction for migration, and how oncogenic transformations influences these decision-making processes.