New cryopreservation technique promises to extend the lifespan of cells and tissues

The key advantage of this breakthrough lies in its ability to reduce the formation of intracellular ice.
Abdul-Rahman Oladimeji Bello
Representational picture.
Representational picture.


Ever wondered how biological material can be preserved for future breakthroughs? The answer lies in cryopreservation, the process of freezing and storing cells at ultra-low temperatures. 

Scientists have been using this technique for years to extend the lifespan of cells and tissues. Now, a groundbreaking new development promises to take this technology to the next level.

In the past, researchers relied on two-dimensional (2D) cell monolayers for studying cellular behavior. But they soon realized that these models didn't accurately replicate the complexity of cells in their natural environment.

Recognizing this limitation, scientists turned their attention to three-dimensional (3D) cell assemblies. Known as spheroids, they offer a more intimate representation of cells in the human body. 

Spheroids have the potential to reduce the reliance on animal testing. They revolutionize the way we study and understand diseases.

However, there has been one major problem with the adoption of 3D cell models. Traditional cryopreservation methods haven't been able to effectively preserve their complex structure. This has limited their availability and hindered their potential applications.

This cutting-edge solution promises to change all of that. Scientists leveraged the properties of soluble ice nucleating polysaccharides and successfully overcame the limitations of traditional cryopreservation. 

These polysaccharides act as nucleators, facilitating the formation of extracellular ice. This offers crucial protection to the cells. This innovation eliminates the need for the nucleators to permeate the 3D cell models.

What are the advantages of this discovery? 

The key advantage of this breakthrough lies in its ability to reduce the formation of intracellular ice. The intracellular ice has proven to be a fatal occurrence in previous preservation methods

This critical finding ensures the integrity of the cell structures and it enhances their viability post-thawing. Imagine how beneficial that will be to researchers worldwide.

The implications of this research are also numerous. Not only does it pave the way for improved banking and deployment of advanced cell models, but it also holds tremendous potential for advancing biomedical research. 

With spheroids more accurately reflecting the in vivo state, scientists can delve deeper into understanding complex cellular processes. It also helps them in drug testing, and disease modeling. At the same time, they minimize their reliance on animal experimentation.

This breakthrough is not only exciting for scientists but also for the general public. By encouraging the widespread use of 3D cell models, the new cryopreservation technique has the potential to accelerate the development of innovative treatments.

As research continues to unfold, scientists are optimistic about the future possibilities this breakthrough presents. The convergence of cryopreservation and 3D cell models is set to reshape the landscape of biomedical research.

With the power of preservation, we can push the boundaries of scientific discovery and pave the way for a brighter, healthier future.

The results were published in the journal JACS Au.

Study Abstract:

3D cell assemblies such as spheroids reproduce the in vivo state more accurately than traditional 2D cell monolayers and are emerging as tools to reduce or replace animal testing. Current cryopreservation methods are not optimized for complex cell models, hence they are not easily banked and not as widely used as 2D models. Here we use soluble ice nucleating polysaccharides to nucleate extracellular ice and dramatically improve spheroid cryopreservation outcomes. This protects the cells beyond using DMSO alone, and with the major advantage that the nucleators function extracellularly and hence do not need to permeate the 3D cell models. Critical comparison of suspension, 2D and 3D cryopreservation outcomes demonstrated that warm-temperature ice nucleation reduces the formation of (fatal) intracellular ice, and in the case of 2/3D models this reduces propagation of ice between adjacent cells. This demonstrates that extracellular chemical nucleators could revolutionize the banking and deployment of advanced cell models.

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