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Reproductive Medicine Conference in Johannesburg

Planer will be supporting our local distributor, IEPSA Medical Diagnostics, who will be exhibiting our latest CT37stax™ benchtop incubator and our DATAssure™ laboratory wireless alarm and monitory system at the Reproductive Medicine conference on the 23 – 25 November 2018 at the Ekurhuleni International Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

The conference’s main goal is to improve the reproductive health of all women from puberty to menopause. Discussions will be held on the latest developments in Assisted Reproductive Technology and its practical application in day-to-day clinical practice. This meeting will be a sharing of ideas on the current evidence-based investigation and management of fertility and the latest update on surgery to improve fertility.

Distinguished experts, from leading South African and international institutions, will be speaking. The conference presents an ideal opportunity to interact with colleagues and create lasting relationships.

Prior to the conference, IEPSA have organised a customer workshop covering a wide variety of topics including providing the optimum incubator environment, ensuring the safety of the samples in the ART clinic, Immunoassay Hormone Testing and Easy, Fast and Specific depletion of unwanted apoptotic spermatozoa. 



Come and see us on stand 62 at Fertility 2019

Fertility 2019

Come and see the Planer team at Fertility 2019, the Joint Conference of the Association of Clinical Embryologists, British Fertility Society and the Society for Reproduction & Fertility.

The conference will be held at the ICC, in the heart of Birmingham from 3rd – 5th January 2019. This year's theme will be “Technologies and controversies in reproduction” and will feature a range of international speakers focusing on specialist areas in fertility and reproductive biology.

Don't forget to drop by stand 62 to see the Planer team and to find out more about our latest CT37stax™ benchtop incubator and our DATAssure™ laboratory wireless alarm and monitory system.

If you would like to arrange an appointment in advance to discuss our benchtop incubators or our alarms and monitoring products, please get in touch. We would be pleased to hear from you.

BioCoR, University of Minnesota, and the science, technology and practice of bio preservation

Professor Allison HubelProfessor Allison Hubel, pictured here, recently presented to a National Academy of Engineering meeting in Washington on the role of Preservation in the variability of Regenerative Medicine products.

In the talk she emphasised that seemingly subtle effects can have a profound end effect on sample thaw recovery. As such an understanding of the scientific basis for each step is critical in preventing poor outcomes - very relevant to the expanding field of 'personalised medicine' products.

Assessing viability of a frozen and thawed cellAllison, of Minnesota University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, covered topics on the criticality of cell collection (the temperatures at which a sample was held pending freezing for example), the actual pre-freeze processing, the dangers of transient warming events and the need to correctly undertake post thaw assessment.  The sources of variation at post thaw assessment could be such as failing to calculate cell losses due to lysis, failure to account for the effects of post thaw apoptosis and failure to optimise an assay.  

Department of Mechanical Engineering University of MinnesotaSpecialist resource for practitioners and researchers
The BioCoR unit, run by Professor Hubel, is a specialist resource for practitioners and researchers interested in the practicalities of the preservation of biological specimens, many of which, although of tremendous interest, cannot be effectively preserved. For example, those responding poorly to conventional preservation are platelets which can only be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days and granulocytes for only 24 hours. For hESCs current methods with the best outcome are appropriate only for small scale applications as they exhibit poor post-thaw colony attachment and high degrees of differentiation, whist the freezing behaviour of IPS cells has been little studied at all. This topic is expanded at

For further information
Biopreservation Core Resource (BioCoR) University of Minnesota
The unit provides many facilities for people interested in the wider field of cell preservations: support courses, newsletters, hands on training plus a library. 








Useful summary of ovarian cryopreservation

Preserving fertility with ovarian tissue transplantation 

Embryologist Media, a non-profit project mainly related to ART, posts a useful summary of ovarian cryopreservation. The article says "Currently, embryo and oocyte cryopreservation are the only fertility preservation techniques that are considered to be non-experimental by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Unfortunately, both approaches require previous preparation and stimulation with gonadotropins for oocyte retrieval, which usually requires 2-4 weeks or longer. Furthermore, oocyte harvest typically involves the use of transvaginal ultrasound and needle oocyte retrieval techniques, which could require general anaesthesia. This delay is often not appropriate for females requiring urgent therapy or in breast cancer patients, because high oestrogen levels might have detrimental effects on the primary tumour. Additionally, not all patients have partners with whom to create embryos for cryopreservation. Most clearly, these techniques are not indicated for young and pre-pubertal female patients due to the inability of their immature hypothalamic-pituitary axis to produce mature eggs. Under these circumstances, the possibility of cryopreservation of ovarian tissue (cortex) has become an urgent and highly demanded technology for two types of young female cancer patients. First, those who must undergo advanced chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. Second, those with non-oncological systemic diseases such as autoimmune or haematological conditions, that sometimes require chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or bone marrow transplantation." The article continues with a description of some of the techniques. 

The aim of Embryologist Media is to give the latest news in the field of assisted reproduction, spreading knowledge and initiating discussions about related topics. It has no commercial relationships with the ART industry.

For further information
Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation. Current procedures and outcomes



First birth in Italy from cryopreserved ovarian tissue transplanted to a cancer patient

Raffaella FabbriThe Italian press reports that a woman gave birth, to a son from stored cryopreserved ovarian tissue retrieved while she was fighting cancer – the first such report from Italy.

Back in 2012 doctors told the woman, from Brescia and who is now thirty-five years old, that she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She went to the Sant'Orsola hospital in Bologna for the removal of ovarian tissue, via anaesthesia and laparoscopy. The tissue was cryo stored with the aim of fertility restoration after her treatment of chemo- and radio-therapy and autologous bone marrow transplantation.

In an increasingly common procedure, the tissue is immersed in cryo-protectant solutions and is frozen in a series of cooling steps in a Planer controlled rate freezer, before being transferred for storage in a liquid nitrogen tank at -196 ℃. The controlled rate and gradual lowering of the temperature during the freezing helps the viability of the tissue post thaw.

In 2016 Raffaella Fabbri published a paper in The Journal of Ovarian Research, concluding that " ...ovarian tissue stored for 18 years showed a good morphology post thaw..."  and that long term storage does not impact tissue preservation.

With this patient, as is common, the outcome of the cancer treatment resulted in premature menopause and infertility. Four years later, after having recovered, she returned to Sant’Orsola hospital for reimplantation of thawed ovarian tissue. The team of specialists carefully transplanted a few pieces of tissue on both remaining ovaries. The first reimplantation showed few signs of recovery, so a second implant was undertaken and within two months a menstrual cycle reappeared, and a pregnancy was achieved two months later.

Raffaella Fabbri, pictured here, is the embryologist responsible for the ovarian tissue cryopreservation procedure at Sant'Orsola hospital along with biologists Dr Rossella Vicenti and Dr Maria Macciocca; Renato Seracchioli is the surgeon who carried out the actual reimplantation. To date, this technique has resulted in over 130 births from oncological patients worldwide.

For further information
Bologna, tessuto ovarico crionconservato. Combatte il tumore e diventa mamma
Long-term storage does not impact the quality of cryopreserved human ovarian tissue







Society for Low Temperature Biology Meeting - Prague

Society for Low Temperature Biology Meeting - Prague, 2018

Planer recently supported the 2018 Society for Low Temperature Biology meeting which took place at the Crop Research Institute, Prague, Czech Republic on the 6th and 7th September 2018.

Society for Low Temperature Biology Prague 2018The meeting was attended by international experts in cryopreservation from a large variety of different fields including human biology, research and plant cryopreservation. The presentations introduced the latest work on cryopreservation techniques relating to a wide range of topics. Of particular interest during the meeting were two reports, one on the impact of EU legislation on cryopreservation technologies and then a summary of the inaugural meeting of a working group looking into transportation and storage of cells and tissue at sub normothermic temperatures. Amongst a varied and interesting program there were also a couple of updates from the teams in Belgium and Spain trying to improve the outcomes from cryopreservation of ovarian tissue which has led to over 130 births worldwide using slow frozen ovarian tissue samples.

The event included a conference dinner held at the Museum of Agriculture followed by a guided tour of Prague on a traditional tram.

The Society for Low Temperature Biology (SLTB) was founded in 1964 with the purpose of promoting research into the effects of low temperatures on all types of organisms and their constituent cells, tissues and organs. Such studies have applications in diverse scientific fields, from biology and medicine to engineering, conservation and environmental science. 

For further information
Society for Low Temperature Biology (SLTB)

A new paper on best practices for cryopreserving, thawing, recovering, and assessing cells

In vitro cellular development biologyDuring the past half-century, the fundamentals of the science of cryobiology have evolved to the point where low temperatures are now used extensively as a means to protect and preserve biological systems during enforced periods of ischemia and hypoxia. In practice, preservation is achieved using either hypothermia without freezing or cryopreservation in which the aqueous system sustains a physical phase change with the formation of ice. Survival of cells from the rigors of freezing and thawing in cryopreservation procedures is only attained by using appropriate cryoprotective agents, and in general, these techniques are applicable to isolated cells in suspension or small aggregates of cells in simple tissues.

As efforts continue to work to standardize and optimize work flow related to the use of biologics in clinical and research settings, a working group of experts from academia and industry was convened to author a series of Best Practices articles covering a series of specific area in cell culture.  One such article, written by Drs. J.M. Baust, L.H. Campbell and J.W. Harbell, addressed the topic of "Best Practices for Cryopreserving, Thawing, Recovering, and Assessing Cells".  

Baust et al. introduce the subject: “Long term storage of cell stocks insures that cells are available for use whenever needed. Cryopreservation of cells is the method of choice for preservation of important or rare cell stocks. There are several factors to consider when establishing a protocol for freezing, thawing and recovery of cells after storage. These parameters may include cell concentration, cryoprotectant choice and concentration, and thawing rate among others. Further, the assessment of cell viability and/or function prior to and following cryopreservation is imperative in order to accurately determine downstream utility as well for optimizing the cryopreservation process." 

The authors continue: “In addition to the physical impacts of freezing (ice formation, solute concentration and freeze induced dehydration) … there is also a biochemical/molecular based impact. … a result of several factors including (1) a decrease in available energy and metabolic activity, (2) biochemical pathway uncoupling and (3) activation of stress response pathways. The manifestation of this sub-lethal damage may not be evident immediately after thawing but may take several hours to days to be detected.” All these factors affect the overall survival of cells.  

Summarizing the goal of the article, Baust et al state: “This chapter is designed to provide guidance and insight into developing robust and successful protocols for preserving cells that will preserve cell stocks and provide optimal cell yield and viability.” 

For further information
In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Animal

Workshop at Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society Annual Meeting

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation for fertility, with a success rate around 30% after transplantation of frozen-thawed ovarian cortex, has had some 130 live births reported to date.

The workshop on September 12th 2018 in Montreal aimed to provide an overview on cryopreservation and transplantation of human ovarian tissue. Talks were given of how the team started and organized their ovarian tissue cryobank, and also how they prepare, freeze and thaw biopsies and perform ovarian tissue transplantation.

A hands-on practice session on cryopreservation was given so participants could get a feel for new alternatives procedures, such as ovarian tissue freezing and in vitro culture/xenografting. The course, planned for 15 people was 100% oversubscribed with over thirty attendees.

Pictured here is Prof Christiani Amorim during her Canadian ovarian tissue transplantation course.

For further information
Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society
Information on courses:
Information on equipment:

News Stories - 2019

News Stories - 2018

News Stories - 2017