Preventing ice crystal formation is one of the main goals when developing new cryopreservation techniques. Ice crystals cause direct injury to the cells during the freezing and particularly thawing process. The ice is also the main culprit for secondary freezing damage that involves the solutes used in the cryoprotectant solution.
We have been developing alternative cryopreservation solutions that bypass the use of DMSO and reduce as well as minimize the formation of undesirable ice crystals. These solutions are based on naturally-occurring compounds with anti-freeze properties that are biologically compatible with cell membranes. Akron’s family of DMSO-free cryomedia is based on proprietary compositions.
Now, new polymers are emerging as preferred alternatives to proteins as cryoprotectants because of their wider availability, lower cost and ease of handling and preparation.
In a new paper published in Chemical Communications, a group of researchers from the University of Warwick have synthesized a new polymer that limits ice crystal formation in frozen red blood cells as they thaw. The polymer is based on a biomimetic, polyampholite with ice-recrystallization-inhibiting properties.
The authors successfully demonstrated the new polymer’s ability to preserve red blood cells as they thaw with an efficiency comparable to DMSO and glycerol, traditionally preferred cryoprotectants.
The tendency to move toward polyampholytic polymers has, in recent years, emerged with interesting solutions that have challenged the traditionally-accepted DMSO as the cryoprotectant of choice and the notion that other solutions are unable to match its broad efficacy. Polyampholites are, however, not the only polymer compound with cryoprotective properties: companies such as Akron have researched alternative solutions with performance that surpasses DMSO. Though there is still a battle to fight as we learn of the new solutions’ clinical utility, the growing body of work is contributing to the field’s move forward.
Contact us if you would like to enquire about our cell and tissue-specific cryopreservation solutions.