There has been a growing appreciation over the last decade that chemotaxis plays an important role in cancer migration, invasion and metastasis. Research into the field of cancer cell chemotaxis is still in its infancy and traditional investigative tools have been developed with other cell types and purposes in mind. Direct visualisation chambers are considered the gold standard for investigating the behaviour of cells migrating in a chemotactic gradient. We therefore drew up a list of key attributes that a chemotaxis chamber should have for investigating cancer cell chemotaxis. These include (1) compatibility with thin cover slips for optimal optical properties and to allow use of high numerical aperture (NA) oil immersion objectives; (2) gradients that are relatively stable for at least 24 hours due to the slow migration of cancer cells; (3) gradients of different steepnesses in a single experiment, with defined, consistent directions to avoid the need for complicated analysis; and (4) simple handling and disposability for use with medical samples. Here we describe and characterise the Insall chamber, a novel direct visualisation chamber. We use it to show GFP-lifeact transfected MV3 melanoma cells chemotaxing using a 60x high NA oil immersion objective, which cannot usually be done with other chemotaxis chambers. Linear gradients gave very efficient chemotaxis, contradicting earlier results suggesting that only polynomial gradients were effective. In conclusion, the chamber satisfies our design criteria, most importantly allowing high NA oil immersion microscopy to track chemotaxing cancer cells in detail over 24 hours
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