Exploring Cell Migration Mechanisms in Cancer: From Wound Healing Assays to Cellular Automata Models

Giorgia Migliaccio, Rosalia Ferraro, Zhihui Wang, Vittorio Cristini, Prashant Dogra, Sergio Caserta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Cell migration is a critical driver of metastatic tumor spread, contributing significantly to cancer-related mortality. Yet, our understanding of the underlying mechanisms remains incomplete.

METHODS: In this study, a wound healing assay was employed to investigate cancer cell migratory behavior, with the aim of utilizing migration as a biomarker for invasiveness. To gain a comprehensive understanding of this complex system, we developed a computational model based on cellular automata (CA) and rigorously calibrated and validated it using in vitro data, including both tumoral and non-tumoral cell lines. Harnessing this CA-based framework, extensive numerical experiments were conducted and supported by local and global sensitivity analyses in order to identify the key biological parameters governing this process.

RESULTS: Our analyses led to the formulation of a power law equation derived from just a few input parameters that accurately describes the governing mechanism of wound healing. This groundbreaking research provides a powerful tool for the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, this approach proves invaluable for the discovery of novel compounds aimed at disrupting cell migration, assessing the efficacy of prospective drugs designed to impede cancer invasion, and evaluating the immune system's responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5284
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 3 2023


  • cancer invasion
  • cell migration
  • cellular automata model
  • digital twin
  • wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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