The aim of the present review is to detail and analyze the pros and cons of in vitro tests available to quantify the anti-migratory effects of anti-cancer drugs for their eventual use in combating the dispersal of tumor cells, a clinical need which currently remains unsatisfied. We therefore briefly sum up why anti-migratory drugs constitute a promising approach in oncology while at the same time emphasizing that migrating cancer cells are resistant to apoptosis. To analyze the pros and cons of the various in vitro tests under review we also briefly sum up the molecular and cellular stages of cancer cell migration, an approach that enables us to argue both that no single in vitro test is sufficient to characterize the anti-migratory potential of a drug and that standardization is needed for the efficient quantitative analysis of cell locomotion in a 3D environment. Before concluding our review we devote the final two parts (i) to the description of new prototypes which, in the near future, could enter the screening process with a view to identifying novel anti-migratory compounds, and (ii) to the anti-migratory compounds currently developed against cancer, with particular emphasis on how these compounds were selected before entering the clinical trial phase.
(c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.