Cryopreservation Finds its Balance

Cryopreservation Finds Its Balance

MedCision VPs discuss the benefits of “balancing” the cryopreservation equation. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of our article “Balancing the Cryopreservation Equation”. The article, appearing in the January edition of the Cryogenic Society of America’s Cold Facts periodical [1] deliberates the historical reliance on optimizing freezing rates and techniques as a means of ensuring optimal cell survival. MedCision VPs argue that this is only half of the “cryopreservation equation”, and that scientists need to be aware that optimizing cell thawing rates and methods will offer as much benefit to the fields of cell biology and medicine as optimizing freezing methods did back when cryopreservation was a new technique.

It has been recognized since the early 1970’s that thawing rate and temperature affect the survival and recovery of cryopreserved cells. [2] Nevertheless, thawing has remained a kind of scientific afterthought to the whole cryopreservation procedure; while the minutia of freezing various cell types is perpetually deliberated, thawing those same cells is allowed to be somewhat haphazard.

The Cold Facts article maintains that it’s high time to challenge that mindset. By reviewing the mechanics of cell thawing, the authors point out just why it’s so critical to thaw cells in a standardized, well-controlled manner. Actively thawing cells at higher temperatures limits the re-growth of minute ice crystals formed during the freezing process; these crystals can wreak havoc on fragile cellular membranes and structures, as well as increase the chances of pushing a cell’s physiology towards post-thaw apoptosis or a damaged functionality.

The authors also caution against exposing your frozen cells to repeated freeze thaw cycles, whether inadvertently during handling and transport, or more intentionally through repeated access to the same set of cells in a LN2 tank or -80oC freezer. These repeated warming and cooling cycles increase the chances of ice re-crystallization. The article concludes that the gap in temperature control technology between freezing cells and thawing them is one that needs to be addressed-one solution comes to mind in the form of the company’s new ThawSTAR® cell thawing system!


[1] Thompson M, Kunkel E, Ehrhardt R. Balancing the Cryopreservation Equation. Cold Facts. January 2015.

[2] Mazur P, Leibo SP, Farrant J, et al.  Interactions of cooling rate, warming rate, and protective additive on the survival of frozen mammalian cells. Ciba Foundation Symposium on the Frozen Cell. J&A Churchill publication, London. 1970.

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