3 November 2022 Elizabeth Tan

What are some of the applications of cryopreservation?

Cryopreservation refers to the storage of biological material at low temperatures, and unknown to many, cryopreservation is used across many industries in the world today. 

The first and most commonly known would be the freezing of foods. Isochoric cryopreservation, a new technology presently being explored in the frozen food industry, has shown that freezing under certain isochoric conditions can result in superior-quality food products than those preserved under conventional freezing conditions.

Another well-known application of cryopreservation is in the medical industry, where cryopreservation is used in assisted reproduction, blood banks, and cell and gene therapy. In assisted reproduction, cryopreservation is used to preserve embryos so they can be used at a suitable time; it also increases the efficiency and effectiveness of fertility treatments by only having to retrieve eggs or sperm once. 

Next, cryopreserving red blood cells and stem cells in blood banks is essential since rare blood is stored to help patients who need it later. Cryopreservation is a crucial enabling technology that accords stable and secure extended cell storage when using cell-based therapies. In autologous bone-marrow rescue, hematopoietic stem cells are retrieved from a patient’s bone marrow prior to chemotherapy. These cells are cryopreserved and thawed, and infused back into the body following treatment.  

Doctors also use profound hypothermia, which is a mild form of cryopreservation in human patients. The process involves controlled cooling of a patient, which effectively stops the cerebral activity. When this cooling is achieved, the heart-lung machine can be stopped to allow surgeons to correct complex aortic and cardiac defects during circulatory arrest. 

The less commonly known application of cryopreservation is in agriculture, where desired breeds of seeds, and pollen can be cryopreserved to ensure that they don’t become extinct. Crop diversity is vital to ensure current food diversity. However, climate change, natural disasters and other factors are endangering this diversity. Crops are often conserved through their seeds, and plants with seeds which are not readily stored, such as potatoes and bananas, can be preserved using small plantlets in test tubes. 

While storing seeds and small plantlets is effective in the short run, preserving the plants for decades would require a considerable amount of money. Comparatively, cryopreservation offers the opportunity to save these species at a relatively much lower cost. 

Finally, cryopreservation is vastly used in the research process. It has enabled researchers to utilize samples that are rare or hard to come by from years ago to answer research questions. Presently, cryopreservation is used to preserve cell models for researchers to study in the future. 

Cryopreservation, however, comes with its own set of challenges, and one of the biggest challenges is the ice that forms within the cells being cryopreserved. Ice forming within cells during the cryopreservation process threatens to destroy the cells and make them unusable. Researchers specializing in cryopreservation are presently working on solutions that can better the process and yield viable cells. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what cryopreservation is doing to help better the world’s biodiversity, food, medical and research industries. Researchers all over the world are making rapid advancements to the cryopreservation process in hopes that more can be done to take control of post-thaw cell recovery so as to yield more usable cells, which in turn betters the industries that are using cryopreservation.  


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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