When equipped with Ultra-Low Freezers, an optimized biomedical cold storage environment is able to reliably store even the most thermosensitive biological samples for research purposes.
Image Credit: B Medical Systems
The last few years have seen the discovery, engineering and study of several beneficial cell samples and microbial strains. Communities all around the globe benefit from a variety of biological products that can protect them or make life easier and more convenient as a result of these scientific discoveries and other technological breakthroughs.
Some of the more well-known examples of these are vaccines, biochemical enzymes and probiotics.
Cells from tissues and microbial strains are precious biological resources. Effective methods for their preservation are therefore extremely important for their use in various industries and within research.
Methods like this both maintain the cells’ high survival rate but also ensure their genetic stability for an extended period. The process can have an unintended impact if not executed properly despite the fact that ultra-low temperature preservation is highly effective for a wide range of sample types.
Therefore, special care and effort are required for their storage and maintenance to avoid their degradation.
It was of extreme importance during the discovery and research processes of microorganisms to ensure that they were stored at the correct temperatures to guarantee their quality and safety.
This is truer than ever, given that ever more thermosensitive pharmaceutical products derived from such organisms are created. They require a reliable biomedical cold storage environment. This need for a reliable biomedical environment is why Ultra-Low Freezers – known as ULTs – are used extensively in research settings to safely store genetic material and cells at temperatures as low as -86 ° C.
In fact, these specialized medical freezers can severely slow down the biochemical pathways of a cell by reaching such extreme temperatures, preserving it for long periods of time.
However, optimizing ultra-low freezing and long-term storage when it comes to obtaining maximum yield and a consistent end-product is just as important as the optimization of the cell culture process. This is because suboptimal cold storage can lead to lowered cellular functionality and reduced cell yield.
Attention must therefore be given to all aspects of the application of low temperatures: from the correct handling of the frozen material during transportation and storage to the choice of freezing containers and cryoprotectants and many more. To a greater or lesser extent, each of these factors influences all the others; therefore, none should be ignored.
Storing cell samples in Ultra-Low Freezers
Ultra-Low Freezers are a range of medical cold chain solutions that are often used to store research and clinical samples at temperatures as low as -86 ° C for long periods of time. These freezer units can effortlessly maintain the integrity of cells and other complex samples such as genetic material by severely slowing down metabolic and other biochemical processes in a cell.
However, the reliability that such cooling solutions offer varies both by model and by the way they are utilized. To demonstrate ultra-low temperature uniformity and stability at a set temperature, the product must be validated. To prevent thermal transients from occurring due to unauthorized access to the ULT, security during the cooling cycle must be assured.
An Ultra-Low Freezer is a dedicated, validated, temperature-monitored way to achieve the required level of control, reliability, and safety. Precautions like proper freezing procedures and cryoprotective agents are necessary to minimize any risk of sample damage during these processes.
Protecting samples from the potentially damaging effects of freezing procedures
Despite ultra-low temperature storage being highly effective for viruses, bacteria, subcellular components and tissue cells, it may result in unintended negative effects.
The formation of ice within cells may cause damage to the samples. This ice formation is usually caused by excessively rapid cooling and the rising concentrations of toxic solutes mainly due to a slow cooling procedure. However, the possibility of cellular damage due to freezing associated with the cooling process can be reduced by the addition of a cryoprotective agent to the sample.
By reducing the amount of ice formed at any given temperature (by increasing the total concentration of solutes in the system), cryoprotectants protect the cells.
To be considered acceptable for biological use, cryoprotectants must therefore be able to penetrate the target cells and showcase low toxicity. This means that the cryoprotectants must be tested extensively on a range of cultures that need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.
Ultra-low freezers can be employed for reliable storage as soon as it has been established that the cryoprotectants can be used safely.
Tailoring storage conditions to cell type
Individual processes, reactions, and chemical pathways all respond in different ways to ultra-low temperature storage conditions. Therefore, there is no universal efficacy of temperature-based suppression of biochemical and physical activity in different types of cells. Structural differences can cause differences in cell responses to cold storage conditions.
Gram-negative bacteria, for instance, have a more fragile and thinner cell wall than Gram-positive bacteria, making the former generally more susceptible to dehydration and damage to cell membranes compared to the latter ones.
Gram-positive bacteria also have lower cell wall lipid content than Gram-negative bacteria, but they do have thicker cell walls and peptidoglycan layers, which renders them more suitable for ultra-low temperature storage and generally more resistant to external physical shock.
A broken or malfunctioning ULT, power outages, or frequent opening and closing of the freezer doors can be detrimental to some microorganisms if they are more sensitive to temperature changes and could therefore be affected by continuous freeze-thaw cycles.
Consequently, it is essential that, in addition to tailoring preservation and maintenance techniques to specific microorganisms, laboratories must focus on deploying reliable medical ultra-low temperature cold chain solutions which can attain and maintain extreme temperatures even during adverse events.
Reliable Ultra-Low Freezers in modern biomedical research
B Medical Systems is a market-leading producer and distributor of innovative medical refrigeration solutions and is proud to be a worldwide leader in the medical cold chain. B Medical Systems has over 40 years of experience and continues to provide innovation to the medical refrigeration industry.
The organization’s products ensure that pharmaceuticals, samples, and compounds, among other things, have the reliable cold storage environment they need.
B Medical Systems offers a diverse range of Ultra-Low Freezers, which vary in ideal usage and storage capacity.
The range begins with the U201, the compact starting model, which has a storage capacity of 217 L and is ideal for storing small pharmaceuticals or samples, and finishes with the U901, which is the largest and has 900 L of storage capacity for laboratory or university usage.
The ﬂ exibility in the operating temperature range is the most significant feature offered by these ULTs, as it allows the reliable storage of different thermosensitive specimens at temperatures between -20 ° C and -86 ° C, allowing the models to be used as a normal medical freezer if required.
There are a range of other key features, which include the product’s advanced cooling system. This inbuilt temperature calibration provides an even and constant distribution which ensures a reliable storage environment for optimal sample safety, along with insulated inner doors, improved gasket seals and strong insulation.
Furthermore, a stable internal temperature is enabled when the doors are opened and closed and even during adverse events thanks to a rapid pull down, superior door opening recovery and holdover times.
Natural green refrigerants are used by our ULTs to reduce their environmental impact at the same time as increasing their overall cooling ef ﬁ ciency. This inbuilt efficiency and sustainability allow these units to help reduce the vast energy values that these types of products typically consume.
The ULT models from B Medical Systems’ are Class II (a) / Class II medical devices (EU MDR and US FDA), conform to EU F-Gas and US SNAP regulations, and certain models have Energy Star certi ﬁ cation.
These models are renowned for their quality, safety, energy, efficiency and reliability worldwide. These products are used globally in multiple fields for advanced research, including gene and cell therapies and microbiology.
About B Medical Systems S.à rl
B Medical Systems S.à rl (formely Dometic / Electrolux) is a global manufacturer and distributor of medical cold chain solutions. Based in Hosingen, Luxembourg, the company was founded in 1979, when WHO approached the Swedish manufacturing giant Electrolux to provide a solution to safely store and transport vaccines around the world. Across the 3 major business portfolios of Medical Refrigeration, Blood Management Solutions, and Vaccine Cold Chain, the company currently offers 100+ models. B Medical Systems’ major products include Laboratory Refrigerators, Laboratory Freezers, Pharmacy Refrigerators, Ultra-Low Freezers, Plasma Freezers, Contact Shock Freezers, Vaccine Refrigerators (Ice-Lined Refrigerators and Solar Direct Drive Refrigerators), and Transport Boxes. All products have integrated 24/7 temperature monitoring capabilities that further ensure that these products offer the highest level of safety and reliability.
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