26 July 2023 Elizabeth Tan

Ice Recrystallization Inhibitors: A Promising Breakthrough in Cryopreservation

Cryopreservation, the process of preserving biological materials at extremely low temperatures, is a critical technique in various fields, including medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. However, the formation of ice crystals during freezing and subsequent thawing poses a significant challenge in maintaining the viability and functionality of biological samples.

Addressing this challenge, PanTHERA CryoSolutions is a pioneer in the development of ice recrystallization inhibitors (IRIs), offering a promising breakthrough in cryopreservation techniques.

Understanding Ice Recrystallization

Ice recrystallization, a natural phenomenon that occurs during the freezing and thawing process, refers to the growth of larger ice crystals at the expense of smaller ones. This phenomenon leads to the formation of sharp and damaging ice structures, causing irreversible damage to biological samples, such as cells, tissues, and organs.

Ice Recrystallization Inhibitors (IRIs)

PanTHERA CryoSolutions has made significant strides in the development of IRIs, which are compounds that can suppress or limit ice recrystallization. By controlling ice recrystallization, the integrity and viability of biological materials can be preserved, making cryopreservation more efficient and effective.

Ice recrystallization inhibitors are present in nature. Antifreeze proteins (AFP) and antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) are found in many organisms (fish, insects, plants, bacteria) that live in cold temperatures and have developed these proteins to protect them from cryoinjury. AFPs are potent inhibitors of recrystallization, but unfortunately their structure and mode of action prevents them from being applicable to the extremely low temperatures required for cryopreservation. Nonetheless, scientists have used these naturally occurring AFPs and AFGPs to base the design of peptides or glycopeptide-based molecules which also exhibit ice recrystallization activity. Although academically interesting, the main limitation of these projects is the large-scale preparation would be complex and very costly, and thus have yet to be commercially developed.

Our group, instead, concentrated its efforts on the design of synthetic small molecules that retain the ice recrystallization activity while at the same time, proving to be efficiently synthesized. Our sugar-derived small molecules possess the ability to concentrate in the liquid phase in between the ice crystals and in doing so they restrict the migration of water molecules between ice crystals thus creating a protective shield around the ice crystals. Their unique molecular structure thus prevents the coalescence of ice crystals, inhibiting the growth of crystals and, resulting in a fine dispersion of small ice particles instead of large, damaging crystals.

The proprietary IRIs developed by PanTHERA CryoSolutions have shown exceptional results in laboratory studies with multiple cell types.

Applications of the IRIs

The breakthroughs achieved by PanTHERA CryoSolutions hold tremendous potential for various medical and biotechnological applications. The development of IRIs opens doors to preserving cells and tissues for regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, and in vitro fertilization.

Moreover, the biotechnology industry relies heavily on cryopreservation for the long-term storage of valuable research materials, including enzymes, antibodies, and genetically modified cell lines. The incorporation of PanTHERA CryoSolutions’ IRIs can significantly enhance the stability and longevity of these materials, facilitating scientific advancements and breakthroughs.

As PanTHERA CryoSolutions continues to advance its research and development efforts, the application of their IRIs is expected to expand further. The pharmaceutical industry, for instance, could benefit from the use of IRIs in preserving drug formulations and vaccines, ensuring their stability and efficacy during storage and transportation.

Furthermore, the agricultural sector can leverage the power of IRIs to preserve plant tissues, seeds, and valuable crop varieties, safeguarding biodiversity and facilitating breeding programs. The conservation of endangered species’ genetic resources is also a potential area where PanTHERA CryoSolutions’ innovative technology could have a profound impact.

PanTHERA CryoSolutions’ ice recrystallization inhibitors represent a significant advancement in the field of cryopreservation. By successfully curbing ice recrystallization, these inhibitors offer new possibilities for maintaining the integrity and viability of biological materials during freezing and thawing processes. With their potential applications in medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, and conservation, PanTHERA CryoSolutions’ IRIs have the capacity to revolutionize the cryopreservation space, opening doors to groundbreaking scientific discoveries and improving the quality of life for many.

About PanTHERA CryoSolutions

PanTHERA CryoSolutions is a Canadian corporation that designs and manufactures cryopreservation solutions for cells, tissues and organs for research and clinical markets. Our patented ice recrystallization inhibitor (IRI) technology exceeds other products by providing superior cryopreservation and increasing post-thaw cell recovery and function for our customers. The technology enables the use of significantly less costly storage and transportation systems limiting the need for liquid nitrogen use for some cell therapy applications.

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