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No. 42: Nov-Dec 1985

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Guiding cell migration

"Cell movement has always been thought to be independent of the extracellular matrix which encourages and guides movement; the cells were thought to move along the pathways under their own power, rather as a train moves along a railway track. New research by Stuart Newman, Dorothy Frenz and James Thomsack, of the New York Medical College, now suggests that the extracellular matrix itself may help to propel cells along." (Experiment details omitted here.) "No one knows whether this matrix-driven movement actually occurs in living organisms. But potentially, it could achieve the high-speed movement of cells depending on the size and characteristics of the cells. Considering that many of the events of development occur remarkably rapidly, this is an attractive possibility for cell migration. " ("More Clues to Cell Movement, " New Scientist, p. 30, September 5, ]985. ) (This phenomenon is not trivial, for it implies that non-living substances (the extracellular matrix) are not necessarily passive but might even be cooperative, if such an adjective can be applied to the non-living. WRC )

From Science Frontiers #42, NOV-DEC 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss