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Society for Cryobiology Joins ATP-Bio

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Coral Reef Cryopreservation

In a recent interview with the Hawaiian Public Radio, Mary Hagedorn, a marine biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology, described their ongoing efforts to preserve coral samples for future generations. At its inception, the Hagedorn Lab first froze the sperm and stem cells of two species of coral from Kāneʻohe Bay and currently has 48 coral species preserved from around the world. Society for Cryobiology member, Jessica Bouwmeester describes the process - "Everything is stored at minus 185 degrees Celsius. So we can keep it like that for years, decades, for as long as we need it," Bouwmeester said. International collaboration has provided samples from the Great Barrier Reef, the Caribbean, Hawai'i, Frech Polynesia, and the Gulf of Mexico. But with only 48 out of 1,000 known coral species preserved, they've barely scratched the surface. Read more.

24,000-year-old 'zombies' revived and cloned from Arctic permafrost

Back from the dead... Bdelloid Rotifers are multicellular microscopic animals with a wheel-like ring of tiny hairs that circle their mouths and that live in freshwater environments. They've been around for about 50 million years. Now, scientists from the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, Russia have resuscitated rotifers that froze in ancient Siberian permafrost during the latter part of the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 million to about 11,700 years ago). These researchers drilled to 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) below the Siberia Alazeya River surface to collect their samples. The soil was radiocarbon dated at ~24,000 years old. Once thawed in the lab, these "zombie" rotifers reanimated and began reproducing asexually through parthenogenesis and created clones that were their genetic duplicates. Read the full new article...

New Techniques for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara, University of Southern California (USC), and the biotechnology company Regenerative Patch Technologies LLC (RPT) have discovered a new method for preserving RPT's stem cell-based therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in aging populations. This new research uses a flexible scaffold, about 18 mm2, to optimize the cryopreservation of a single layer of ocular cells generated from human embryonic stem cells. Currently in clinical trials, this implant can be frozen, stored for long periods, distributed to clinical sites, then thawed and immediately implanted into the patient's eyes. The extended shelf-life and on-demand distribution will increase the number of patients who can benefit from this treatment. Read the full article. 

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New Method to Cryopreserve Fruit Fly

 The Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly, a critical genetic research model, has eluded scientist's attempt to cryopreserve the embryos until now. A research team from the University of Minnesota and Center for Advanced Technologies for the Preservation of Biological Systems (ATP-Bio) including Society for Cryobiology members Drs. Le Zhan and John Bischof, introduce a new method of cryopreserving Drosophila embryos with >50% of the embryos hatching post cryopreservation and >25% of the resulting larvae maturing to full adults. According to the Society for Cryobiology member Dr. John Bischof "Our multi-disciplinary team is pleased to contribute an accessible protocol to cryopreserve numerous strains of Drosophila, an important biomedical model, while also hopefully informing other insect and related species embryo preservation." Humans share more than 50% of their genes with the Drosophila, and these seemingly insignificant flies have already been vital for Alzehimer or Zika research. Read the news article or the original research abstract.

Automated Embryo Cryopreservation

Improved cryopreservation of embryos in the field of IVF would increase fertility odds for Would-Be parents and the health of their future babies. A research collaboration between the National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Iran and McGill University and the University of British Columbia in Canada introduce an independent, automated microfluidic system to replace the water with cryoprotectants (CPAs) during the embryo vitrification process. Traditional CPA pipetting techniques can result in abrupt osmotic shock causing molecular damage to the embryos. In this new method, the embryos are placed on a chip that automatically controls the CPA's concentration and flow rate, significantly reducing potential human error. Read the full news article or the Biomicrofluidics abstract.

Reversing Osteoarthritis in Mice

A research team from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Wuhan Union Hospital have developed a new medium, named Cryogel, to reverse osteoarthritis in mice with slow releasing stem cells. This sponge-like material is created at subzero temperatures and is extremely porous. After seeded the Cryogel with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), it is implanted at the affected joint. "It takes about two weeks for half of the implanted cells to leave, but their regenerative effects stick around for longer," said corresponding author Wei Tong from the Department of Orthopedics of Union Hospital. "So it is possible that the therapeutic result comes indirectly, via the stem cells secreting epidermal growth factors, which stimulate cell proliferation and healing, rather than directly becoming newly formed cartilage in the joint." The team also reports that this technique reduces the required stem cell amount by 90%. Read the news article or the original abstract published in Chemical Engineering Journal.

Biostasis Research Institute Launched

An ambitious project to create a human "Organ Bank", the Biostasis Research Institute (BRI), is underway in conjunction with the Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Minnesota. Society for Cryobiology member, co-founder and Director of the BRI, Jedediah Lewis, says "This institute is another major step forward in the ability to store life. These technologies can bring to science and medicine what other domains, such as energy and agriculture, have taken for granted for centuries: practical, widespread distribution of humanity's most important lifesaving resources. The benefits for human health will be profound." Society for Cryobiology members Dr. Korkut Uygun and Dr. Shannon Tessier are part of the leadership team for the Center for Biostasis at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of two research facilities to be built, which will develop and apply new technologies for controlling ice formation at sub-freezing temperatures and create living systems able to undergo extreme temperature changes. Society for Cryobiology member Dr. John Bischof is part of the leadership team for the other research center, the Organ and Tissue Preservation Center at the University of Minnesota, which will focus on new reanimation technologies to restore and revive the cryopreserved organs. The BRI's three initial objectives are preserving organs for infants and children in need of a transplant, creating the first functional human brain banks, and extending the storage time of kidney transplants from days to weeks. Read the full article.

BioRescue Prepares for Northern White Rhinos

The international team of scientists and researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research are pleased to announce the introduction of four new northern white rhino (NWR) embryos, totaling nine embryos ready for implantation into surrogate southern white rhinos (SWRs). Oocytes (immature egg cells) were collected from Fatu, one of the two last remaining NWR, and artificially inseminated using frozen sperm from deceased NWR males. The team is currently preparing the family environment including carefully selecting potential surrogate SWR and sterilizing Owuan, a SWR male, whose behavior will provide key indicators to the surrogate's reproductive timing. Read the full article...

ISBER Releases Position Statement for Management and Use of Ultra Low Temperature Freezers

Vancouver-January 12, 2021--The International Society for the Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), which represents professional experts in biobanking, ultra-low temperature (ULT) storage, and cold chain management, has released its position statement listing key practices health agencies should consider to support the COVID-19 vaccine distribution with dedicated ULT freezers. The document, titled "Ultra Low Temperature Freezers: Key Considerations," provides evidence based guidance for those responsible for distribution, storage, and management of the vaccine, to resources that detail the fundamentals of safe and efficient ULT freezer management, shipping, and distribution.

"The global biobanking community has consolidated our knowledge and expertise into a brief one page resource. We aim to minimize the learning curve and to help people and health agencies new to ultra-low temperature storage avoid common pitfalls," said Piper Mullins, President-Elect of ISBER.

The document draws on accepted practices known to ensure robust ULT product storage and distribution that are routinely used by biorepositories. The document represents a consensus view from the biobanking community. The organization drew on the expertise of biorepository managers and industry vendors with further reference from the ISBER Best Practices, Fourth Edition. The statement intends to supplement guidance from national and local health agencies on managing the cold chain deployment of frozen COVID-19 vaccines.

 "We want ISBER to be the go-to resource for the growing number of people who are just learning about ultra-low storage and handling during this fraught time," said Associate Professor Daniel Catchpoole, President of ISBER. "As a scientific community who are experts in cold chain logistics of biological specimens, it is vital that our national health agencies draw on the expertise ISBER provides to guide the proper management of freezers for the distribution of biological therapeutics." 

To learn more about the association please visit www.isber.org.

About the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories

ISBER (www.isber.org) is the only global forum that addresses harmonization of scientific, technical, legal, and ethical issues relevant to repositories of biological and environmental specimens. ISBER fosters collaboration; creates education and training opportunities; provides a forum for the dissemination of state-of-the-art policies, processes, and research findings; and provides an international showcase for innovative technologies, products, and services. Together, these activities promote best practices that cut across the broad range of repositories that ISBER serves.

About the ISBER Best Practices

The ISBER Best Practices: Recommendations for Repositories Fourth Edition presents the most effective practices for the management of biological and environmental specimen collections and repositories. These are either evidence-based or consensus-based practices for collection, long-term storage, retrieval, and distribution of specimens. Development of best practices is a rigorous, consensus-based process that reflects advances in research and technology. To access, please visit: https://www.isber.org/page/BPR.

Are Cheaper Cryo-Electron Microscopes on the Horizon?

Over the past six years, researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have developed an easier and cheaper version of the traditional cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM). Opposed to the traditional high-energy electron cryo-EM, this new style utilizes a low-energy electron beam. The low-energy electron cryo-EM allows scientists to better observe atoms with low atomic mass such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, which are primary elements in biomolecules. Another benefit to this new cryo-EM is the ability for scientists to observe both amplitude and phase whereas the traditional method only provides information on phase. Drawbacks include an image resolution significantly inferior to a conventional cryo-EM, but researchers could use this new method to gauge their sample quality before proceeding to the more costly, high-energy electron method. READ MORE

Special Announcement: ASRM Committee Opinion

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recently announced in a committee opinion that ovarian tissue cryopreservation (OTC) is no longer considered experimental and can be used in prepubertal patients or when there is not time for ovarian stimulation. This is a major step for the field and provides young patients with more options to preserve their future fertility.

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First Human Placed in Suspended Animation

A team of medics at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine have announced their first attempt at placing a human in suspended animation. The Federal Drug Administration approved the team for 10 trials where a patient will be rapidly cooled to 10-15 °C by replacing their blood with ice-cold saline, ceasing nearly all brain activity. Hypothetically, medical professionals then have up to 2 hours to operate before the "suspended" patient is rewarmed and their heart started again. The team's trial procedure officially called Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation (EPR), is only allowed to be trialed on acute trauma victims (i.e. gunshot or stab wounds) who have already suffered cardiac arrest and have less than a 5% survival rate.
Read the full article HERE.

CRYO2019 Plenary Speakers in the News

CRYO2019 Plenary speakers Bart Panis and Oliver Ryder have featured in a recent news article by Katharine Gammon, a freelance science writer in California, who attended CRYO2019 as our guest. Ryder, the director of the "Frozen Zoo", presented on the continuous efforts made by the San Diego zoo to cryopreserve genetic material from over 10,000 species. Panis, a senior researcher with the Leuven, Bioversity International, discussed with Gammon the massive ice cave-turned-seed bank, Svalbard seed vault, with its 820,000 seed samples and the challenges surrounding flora cryopreservation. Read the full article HERE

Organ Transplant Survival Rate to Triple

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School began supercooling rat livers 5 years ago with the intention of being able to preserve human organs for more than the current 9 hours. Society for Cryobiology members, Reinier de Vries and Korkut Uygun, contributed to the research team's current experiment on human livers that were unsuitable for transplants. The research team's ultimate goal is a true organ bank where organs can be preserved for years instead of hours or days and in essence, eliminate the hundreds of deaths that occur while patients wait for a suitable transplant. Read the full article HERE.

Postponing Menopause

Springboarding off the research done to preserve female's fertility before cancer treatments, researchers are now applying the same techniques to women in an attempt to postpone menopause. Researchers remove an ovarian tissue sample, use cryopreservation to preserve the pre-menopausal tissue, and then, even decades later, thaw and graft the tissue back onto the body. This tissue can then restore the reduced hormones and delay menopause. Tissue samples from nine women are being preserved, ready to be used just as the women begin to enter menopause.

Of course the younger and healthier the original tissue sample, the more effective it will be in delaying menopause. A tissue sample from a 40-year-old woman is expected to delay menopause by only 5 years, but future women in their 20s may be able to postpone menopause or even extend their fertility window by 20 to 30 years. READ MORE...

Are We Ready for Space Babies?

We don't have to worry about our planetary passports quite yet. As a species, we're still "light years" away from space babies, but the  European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna presented research that frozen sperm samples can still be viable after being subject to microgravity conditions.

Montserrat Boada, director of an embryology laboratory at Dexeus Mujer, a women's health center in Barcelona, Spain and a team of researchers tested the effects of altered on sperm samples using aerial abcroatics. Passenger air flight is no comparison to the conditions these 10 sperm samples underwent which included at least 20 parabolic maneuvers that exposed the samples to space-like gravity and gravity forces two to three times more than experienced on Earth.  Other obstacles to future space colonization would include conception, the effect of microgravity on respiratory and circular systems, and the unknown prenatal effect of zero-Gs. Read more HERE

Assemble Plus Marine Funding Call

Assemble Plus


Assemble Plus has opened its fourth call for access to infrastructure in Marine labs in Europe. 

The Assemble plus consortium has opened again the Transnational access competitive calls where any scientist can apply with a good, short idea and the A+ covers the expenses (travel, accommodation, research, equipment fees) of that project for 1 month in any of the marine stations in the consortium. Application is quite straightforward and very in touch with the team on the selected destination.

Visit the Assemble Plus website for more information about how to apply. 

ISBER Best Practices Addendum

The Society for Cryobiology, in partnership with the ISBER, is pleased to announce the launch of the Liquid Nitrogen-Based Cryogenic Storage of Specimens Best Practices Addendum to the ISBER Best Practices 4th Edition. "The new Liquid Nitrogen Best Practices Addendum will be a go-to resource for the growing number of repositories being asked to store cellular products being used in adoptive therapy research and manufacturing. We are grateful to the team of contributors who are world leaders, who have shared their expertise in building and managing facilities to support collections requiring sub-Tg (glass transition, -135°C) storage,” said David Lewandowski, President of ISBER.
The new ISBER Addendum and the ISBER Best Practices 4th Edition is available to download now.

2019 Royan Institute Cryobiology & Biobanking Symposium

The Royan Institute held their third cryobiology and biobanking symposium on February 27, 2019, in Tehran, Iran. The Royan Institute was established in 1991 as a public non-profit research institute for reproductive biomedicine and infertility treatments. Today Royan consists of three research institutes: 

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