US scientists find new means to improve mammalian cell preservation
US scientists have made a major advance in the preservation of mammalian cells, making desiccation a promising alternative to the conventional cryopreservation via liquid nitrogen.
The new finding was made by researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) and published in the latest edition of the online journal PLoS One. Desiccation has been a method often used for in vitro fertilization and species conservation.
Adam Higgins, an author of the study and associate professor of bioengineering at OSU, said the stable storage of cells in a dried state requires removing enough amount of water from the cells, so that the remaining matrix forms a non-crystalline, glassy solid.
He said the OSU scientists worked hard on methods to achieve the ability of a desiccation solution to form that kind of glass, which locks the molecular structure in place and prevents degradative chemical reactions.
Their principal target was to find the key parameter for the design of cell desiccation procedures, the glass transition temperature that is the point where the glassy solid forms.
During the study, they found that the glass transition temperatures rise with decreasing moisture contents in the desiccation solution, arriving at a formulation for the stable storage of desiccation solution in refrigerators at room temperature.
Higgins said the results open up the potential for scientists to design multicomponent mixtures for cell desiccation.
The OSU research was supported by the US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.