This year, Planer is celebrating 45 years since it was set up. We have been taking a trip down memory lane looking at how our incubators have evolved from an anaerobic incubator in the 70s to our latest, sophisticated benchtop incubator launched just last year.
Though already well known for our controlled rate freezers by the 1980s, we actually piloted our first incubator in 1976, collaborating with the then UK Department of Health and Social Services. It was a novel form of anaerobic incubator, to be an alternative to the prevailing jar system for the isolation of anaerobes from clinical material. A prototype machine was built around 1980 and was tested by a team from the Department of Microbiology at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, London who published a note on it the Journal of Clinical Pathology in 1982. The product went on to be distributed for a while by Gallenkamp who became part of Fisons Scientific plc, in turn part of Rhone-Poulenc.
Fast forward fifteen years and we revisited the area of controlled warm environments. In 2008 we came out with a prototype high precision benchtop incubator and the distribution of this, the BT37, by Cooper Surgical Inc., Origio AB and IMV Technologies SA has now put that unit at the forefront of many of the world’s human and animal IVF laboratories.
All our incubators use our proprietary software management system PIMS , a 21 CFR Part 11 compliant, password protected, logger that alerts users of any out of range alarms and provides placement information to easily locate samples and ensure they are returned back to the same spot as well as giving full audit reports of function.
The success of the BT37 was due to its reliability, rugged construction and its worldwide regulatory compliance. We felt that space-limited laboratories might need the same precision in a more compact form, and so designs for a high capacity incubator – to complement the BT37 – were started in 2014. It used the best of our existing technology within a unique modular, patented, ‘stack’ to produce accurate environments for optimal clinical conditions inside each independently humidified incubation chamber. The space saving design of this new model, the CT37stax multi chamber benchtop incubator, provides high dish capacity and uses a third less space than a normal incubator. Additional chambers can be added too, enabling a laboratory’s capacity to grow in modular fashion.
It is now 45 years since Planer was founded. To mark the occasion, we have been taking a look at our archives to see how cryopreservation and its applications have developed over these four decades.
By the 1970s new forms of cryobiology were emerging around the world. Planer were at the forefront of this field and one of our first equipments is shown here with Professor David Pegg, a founding father of the science. These early controlled rate freezers allowed samples, till then difficult or impossible to deep freeze successfully, to be slowly frozen down in controlled ramps within a cryo-protective solution, for storage in liquid nitrogen and later use. An early success was the first birth from a frozen bovine embryo.
In 1984 in Melbourne, Australia the first human baby from a frozen embryo was born, helped on her way by Drs Alan Trounson and Carl Wood using a Planer freezer. Around the same time, as assisted human fertility became established as a science, human sperm started to be routinely banked for later use, not usually stored as long as in one case, where a sample slow frozen using a Planer Kryo 10 in Canada was used to give a healthy baby – twenty two years later.
In 1986 the first successful freezing of a human oocyte was reported by Dr Christopher Chen in the Lancet, again using a Planer controlled rate freezer, the research continued and in 1991 arterial graft material was frozen successfully for the first time using Planer rate freezers. And as the bio-banking industry expanded, controlled rate freezing became a more mainstream technology - routinely employed around the world.
Many different types of cells, including cord blood, bone marrow, semen, skin, ovarian tissue, heart valves and blood vessels are controlled rate frozen and carefully stored in the cryogenic systems we supply and service. As their sample numbers increase many users take advantage of our DeltaT software which allows them to deploy one profile to several freezers, with those profiles being displayed on the same graph and each run having a time stamped compliant summary.
Investigations continue into new areas of preservation such as controlled vitrification or the mechanics of freezing such as the monitoring of freezing rates – and so Planer equipment continues to help in key developments, new treatments and scientific breakthroughs around the world.
The 2018 Society for Low Temperature Biology (SLTB) meeting will be taking place at the Crop Research Institute, Prague on the 6thand 7th September 2018.
The Society 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.
SLTB members come from a range of disciplines, but all share a common interest in understanding relationships between low temperatures and biological systems. The objectives of the SLTB are:
Topic areas range from natural mechanisms of cold tolerance, the cryopreservation of cells and tissues for medical, agricultural and conservation purposes, low temperature microscopy, through to the physics and physical chemistry of water and ice; and heat and mass transfer in all types of biological systems.
As a pioneering company within this field Planer will be attending this meeting to demonstrate our latest Cryogenic equipment.
For further information about this meeting please visit:-
Society for Low Temperature Biology Website
"Operating a successful cryopreservation facility", a handbook which gives an introduction to key issues to be considered when establishing or running a cryopreservation facility, is now available on Amazon.
This approachable book aims to give an easy guide to issues which can arise when setting up or running a facility storing biological samples, cells, tissue and the like. The book is aimed at managerial and scientific employees with little prior knowledge of the field and deals with the necessary biology, facility management and operating procedures that are central to operating a successful cryopreservation and storage service.
The authors, Prof Brian Grout and Mr James Bennet, give a practical view of the process of liquid nitrogen freezing, the equipment and consumables needed, the processes, procedures and safety practices that should be in place. The guide aims to be a handy reference source for non-experts who need to become involved in managing or running a bio bank or cryopreservation laboratory and the content is equally applicable to human, animal, plant, food or microbial material and is relevant for both large and small operations.
Brian Grout became involved in cryobiology as a postdoctoral fellow and over an international academic career has studied low temperature effects and cryopreservation in systems ranging from fungi and marine invertebrates to human cell cultures, contributing extensively to the scientific literature in the field. He is Professor Emeritus in Life Sciences at Copenhagen University.
James Bennet became involved in cryobiology through a career including manufacturing, servicing and sales of temperature related equipment for medics, embryologists, cryobiologists and researchers. Throughout this thirty-five year period working with all aspects of freezing and liquid nitrogen his name has become very well known with cryogenic laboratories worldwide for training, problem solving, planning and also acting as expert witness in legal proceedings.
Planer plc specialises in equipment for monitoring and controlling the physical parameters relating to cells - such as cold temperatures, incubating temperatures, humidity, pH and gas concentration. Users in hospitals, laboratories, IVF labs and universities depend on the viability of their stored samples and have now relied on Planer's programmable freezers, vessels, monitors, incubators and sensors for forty-five years. All around the world Planer equipment is used daily for the viable preservation of medical and biological specimens: cell lines, cord blood, bone marrow, embryos, botanical matter, semen, oocytes, botanical seeds, skin, ovarian tissue, heart valves and blood vessels.
For further information
"Operating a successful cryopreservation facility" is now available on Amazon.
Published by Planer plc. Available as at £20.00, A5 format, 115 pages.
IVI fertility group, headquartered in Valencia Spain, treats around 5,000 couples from 80 countries each year. Lab director Dr Carmela Albert (pictured here) and colleagues published a poster at the 2018 Alpha Congress in Iceland.
The poster looked at the role of humidity in the incubation process. Dr Carmela Albert, et al, from IVI, looked at the optimal conditions in incubators for embryo culture. For many incubators, oil overlay has supported successful use of a dry incubator for culture human embryos, preventing changes in the pH and temperature.
Since in vivo culture conditions are humid the aim of the study was to know how high humidity might affect embryo development. So experiments were carried out in a Geri® incubator comparing dry conditions to humid, performing a detailed analysis with a continuous embryo monitoring system. The results strongly suggested that culture conditions with high humidity atmosphere promoted embryo development and reproductive outcome.
At the beginning of September, Planer will be sharing an exhibition space at the "Europe Biobank Week 2018: Biosharing for Scientific Discovery" conference with CryoSolutions. Co-organised by BBMRI-ERIC and ESBB, Europe Biobank Week 2018 will take place in Antwerp, Belgium, from the 4th until the 7th September 2018.
Europe Biobank Week (EBW) is one of the most significant biobanking conferences worldwide. This event provides an exciting and unique opportunity for the biobanking community to discuss the future challenges for biobanking, network and explore new prospects for cooperation and collaboration. While last year’s conference focussed on harmonisation, the theme for 2018 will be Biosharing for Scientific Discovery.
We look forward to welcoming biobanking experts, scientists, policy makers, patient representatives, and the wider scientific community at Europe Biobank Week in Antwerp and hope to see you on our stand number 35.
Planer will be exhibiting at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Society of Cryobiology (CRYO2018), which will be held from 10-13 July in Madrid, at the Spanish National Research Council, one of the largest research institutes in Europe. The theme of the meeting is ‘Scientific Challenges of Cryobiology’.
Held over four days, the meeting will feature five plenary speakers and more than 25 invited speakers from around the world. There will also be a full programme of submitted abstract oral and poster presentations covering all aspects of cryobiology – from human and animal cells, to plant preservation, to cryosurgery, to food technology, and much more.
If you attending CRYO2018, please do come and see us on our stand, which you can find in the cloisters area of the CSIC campus.
For more information
With Europe Biobank Week 2018 in Antwerp, Belgium coming up (September 4-7th) people will be reviewing the available information on the subject. A definitive book is published by Springer - and of the fourteen chapters, chapter five, "The Future of Cell Preservation Strategies" by John M. Baust et al will probably interest our customers.
Dr Baust introduces this subject: " ... cryopreservation is often viewed as an “old school” discipline yet modern cryopreservation is undergoing another scientific and technology development growth phase. In this regard, today’s cryopreservation processes and cryopreserved products are found at the forefront of research in the areas of discovery science, stem cell research, diagnostic development and personalised medicine. As the utilisation of cryopreserved cells continues to increase, the demands placed on the biobanking industry are increasing and evolving at an accelerated rate. No longer are samples providing for high immediate post-thaw viability adequate. Researchers are now requiring samples where not only is there high cell recovery but that the product recovered is physiologically and biochemically identical to its pre-freeze state at the genominic, proteomic, structural, functional and reproductive levels".
He continues "It is often unappreciated that in order for a cell to be successfully cryopreserved the cell itself must avoid freezing, therefore remaining in a state of deepening hypothermia until glass transition temperature is reached. In essence, for a cell to be successfully cryopreserved, it must remain in a ultra-cold liquidous state until transitioning to a glassy state. Generally speaking, if ice forms within a cell during any part of the process, survival will be compromised. Cryoprotective agents (CPAs) function, in part, to lower the probability of intracellular ice formation.... today's CPAs include a variety of penetrating (membrane permeable) and non-penetrating compounds contained in an appropriate cell culture media with or without serum."
The science of Biobanking, which initially involved simply storing blood or tissue samples in a freezer, is now a highly sophisticated field of research, and expected to grow exponentially over the next decade or two. The book aims to enrich the available literature by offering a useful collection of ideas for the future. It outlines the experiences of developing modern Biobanking repositories in different countries, whilst covering specific topics regarding its many aspects.
For further information
Biobanking in the 21st Century, Springer