Standardized assays for cellular functions are critical for health and disease diagnostics and for drug testing. Towards this goal, emerging technologies for microscale control can help reduce variability from external influences and reveal cellular heterogeneity. Measuring cell motility is one example of cellular function, considered to be inherently noisy, where technology could enable robust and reproducible measurements. Such measurements could help establish normal reference values for healthy cells, measure changes during disease, or compare the effect of various drugs and compounds. Ultimately, these achievements could pave the way for establishing a generally accepted and easy to use metric system for cell motility, and could lead to many more predictive in vitro systems for cellular functions relevant to health and disease.

The theme for the 2012 World Cell Race is “Speed and Persistence” during cell motility. The Race is organized in collaboration by the BioMEMS Resource Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the Systems Cell Biology Group at the Institute Curie in Paris. At the end of the race, together we will:
• measure the fastest and most persistent cells migrating along channels
• have a chance to compare cells from various labs around the world and reference cells from cell repositories.
• stimulate interdisciplinary discussions between people developing assays for measuring cell motility and people using this information for science and clinical applications.
• increase the awareness of non-scientists to the major role cell motility in health and disease, from inflammation to cancer and from development to tissue regeneration.

The 2012 World Cell Race will take place at six selected Nikon Imaging Centers around the world. At the time of the race, early this Fall, you will send your “competition ready” cells to one of these centers. Images of cells migrating through small channels of the assay will collected automatically. Advanced imaging analysis will be employed to measure the migration speed and persistence parameters for these cells. Memorable prizes will be awarded to the teams that sent us the fastest, more persistent cells. For more details on how you could participate to the success of the 2012 World Cell Race, please visit regularly this website for more details and updates.