The World First Cell Race

We have organized the WORLD FIRST CELL RACE.
The idea was to run against each others the fastest cells scientists are working with to study cell migration. To that end we microfabricate some thin tracks of extra-cellular matrix and to record cell migration on them. We organized the race with the help of 6 research teams throughout the world: the lab of Wendell Lim at UCSF, the lab of Tim Mitchison at HMS, the lab of Maddy Parsons at King College London, the lab of Holger Erfle at Bioquant (Heidelberg, Germany), the lab of Jean-Paul Thiery at Singapore, the lab of Matthieu Piel at the Institut Curie in Paris.
Laboratories from all over the world have been invited to send us frozen cells. All types of modifications of genes expression were allowed as long as they were properly characterized. We received about 50 entrants from all organizing countries. Cells were thawed and plated on tracks microfabricated by the company CYTOO. They were then video-recorded for 24 hours. Paolo Maiuri (from Piel lab) developed an Image J macro to track single cell movement and measure several cell migration parameters, including cell speed of course. The fastest cells we recorded was a human embryonic mesenchymal stem cells running at 5.2 µm/min over more than 300 micrometers. All results were reported in a peer-reviewed publication in Current Biology (see Maiuri et al. Current Biology, 2012). We found an interesting universal correlation between cell speed and persistence during migration.