Metastasis is the cumulative result of multiple changes in tumor cells and their microenvironment that enable cells to migrate or invade into healthy host tissue. Penetration of the sub-endothelial basement membrane marks a critical turning point in the metastatic process. As proliferating neoplastic cells attempt to escape the primary tumor site, local invasion of the surrounding tissue (interstitial stroma) must occur. Prior to penetrating the blood vessel endothelium and gaining access to the blood stream (intravasation), cancer cells must invade local tissues by degrading ECM components and ultimately, transverse the basement membrane. Once in circulation, these cells can form metastatic colonies at secondary locations.
Merck’s portfolio of migration, invasion, chemotactic and haptotactic Boyden Chamber cell-based assays enable researchers to simulate the barriers invaded by and conditions encountered by normal and metastatic cells in vivo. Our ever-evolving portfolio of migration and invasion assay solutions is also moving beyond the Boyden chamber technique to analyzing the dynamics of extracellular matrix degradation and wound healing.