News 2018

Optimising Cryopreservation of Human Testicular Tissues

While adolescent and adult men have the option to cryopreserve sperm prior to chemotherapy or radiation in cancer treatment, this is not available to pre-pubertal boys. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Magee-Womens Research Institute write that several IVF centres worldwide are preserving testicular biopsies for these patients in anticipation that spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) in the tissue can be used to achieve fertility in the future. In order to maximise the use of these tissues, the authors Valli-Pulaski et al, compared the cryopreservation of a cell suspension to an intact piece of tissue to discover the optimal cryopreservation method.

In the experiment the efficiency of each technique was analysed by immuno-cytochemistry for spermatogonia markers and human-to-nude mouse xenotransplantation. The average immuno-cytochemistry tested positive cells were highest in the fresh tissue; but from the cryopreserved groups, large tissue pieces and small tissue pieces had similar numbers of positive cells while cell suspension had the least positive cells and was significantly worse than cryopreserved intact tissue pieces. The authors conclude that based on their results, slow freezing of small piece of tissue is the most efficient technique to cryopreserve human testicular tissue. 

For further information
Optimising Cryopreservation of Human Testicular Tissues
Reproductive Biomedicine Online
Volume 37, Supplement 2, Page e4


Treating acute liver failure: a new scaffold for the culture of liver-organoids shows promise

The development of liver has been of prominent interest, as liver disease is the fifth biggest cause of deaths in the UK. Acute liver failure (ALF) in children is a life-threatening condition. The prognosis of ALF is generally poor and medical intervention relies on a liver or hepatocyte transplantation if the native liver is unable to recover. The major limitation of the technique today is the availability of donor organs. There have been limited clinical advancements in the treatment of ALF utilising novel regenerative techniques, such as the use of embryonic stem cell techniques to induced pluripotent stem cell-derived hepatocytes. The use of human bio-compatible scaffolds to grow liver type/functional cells is increasing and the main challenges in translating advances in basic science of cell therapy into the clinic has been determining the best route of delivery, the rapid elimination of transplanted cells by the recipient, poor engraftment and proliferation of transplanted cells within the liver.

Researchers at Kings College London, Anil Chandrashekran (pictured right) and Anil Dhawan (pictured below), examined the use of methylcellulose as a scaffold to obtain liver-organoids. They cultured hepatocyte and MSCs in the presence of methylcellulose and growth factors and tested the ability of organoids to produce albumin and detoxify ammonium chloride, in optimally cultured conditions describing their research in BioInsights December 2018.

Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) can be easily cultured from adult bone marrow and full-term umbilical cord (blood or the Wharton’s jelly) and have been isolated from muscle connective tissue, adipose tissue and in some circumstances peripheral blood. Currently novel scaffolds are under scrutiny for the unmet need to use organoid-based product suitable for transplantation in ALF, this until the patient receives a liver transplant or recovers. 

Hepatocytes fractions were collected, treated and cells were frozen in cryovials and cryobags using a Planer controlled rate freezer before storage at -180°C vapour phase nitrogen freezers. The MSCs were isolated from Wharton’s jelly of umbilical cords obtained following caesarean section deliveries. Once cell cultures were established, they were expanded, quality controlled and cryopreserved

The study showed that methylcellulose, an inert semi-solid media more suitable for clinical use than current products, could be utilised as a scaffold to establish liver-organoids that resemble liver structure and function. And they say the suitability of using methylcellulose towards clinical grade expansion of organoids is highly compelling. Further optimisation and scaling up of the process is underway. 

Improvements to hepatocyte transplantation have been made by encapsulating hepatocytes with alginate beads which eliminates the need for immunosuppressants. More recently, bio-fabrication techniques have been developed using 3D plotting with methylcellulose and alginate. MSCs cultured in these 3D scaffolds retained viability and differentiation properties and so taking these techniques together it should be feasible to establish organoids in methylcellulose, as done here and then encapsulating the resulting organoids in alginate-methylcellulose 3D scaffolds.  The organoid culture system established is thought highly applicable in the treatment of ALF but might also be well suited to drug screening and disease modelling.

For further information
Read article: Methylcellulose as a scaffold in the culture of liver-organoids for the potential of treating acute liver failure
Planer freezers: Medium sized control rate freezers


UEARS - Upper Egypt Assisted Reproductive ConferenceThe 4th Upper Egypt Assisted Reproductive Conference (UEARS), will take place in Cairo from the 20th – 22nd February 2019 and is aimed at gynaecologists, andrologists, embryologists, lab directors, medical field researchers and those involved in Quality Control and Total Quality Management of the ivf laboratory. 

This year, UEARS hopes to welcome over 2000 delegates and will offer a cutting-edge programme, with an international line up of speakers. UEARS’ goal is to foster innovation and collaboration and to fill the gap between science and practice.

Planer will be supporting our local distributor, Modern BioSystems. Come and see us on stand 7 to find out more about our CT37stax™ benchtop incubatorDATAssure™ laboratory wireless alarm and monitory system and our range of cryogenic freezers.

To find out more:-
UEARS - Upper Egypt Assisted Reproductive Conference
CT37stax™ benchtop incubator


Uterine cryopreservation?

Research from a team at Nottingham University at the "Fertility 2019" conference presented some interesting results about uterine cryopreservation, which, considering recent reports on the success of uterine transplants, may be a viable option for uterine banking in the future. Author Dr Juan Hernandez-Medrano (pictured here) published a poster on the "Evaluation of tissue after uterine cryopreservation following a slow freezing protocol" where he was looking into possibilities for uterine freezing that could be an option for uterine factor infertility in patients. Currently, cold ischaemic storage is the preservation strategy between retrieval and transplantation. Cryopreservation offers the possibility of storage allowing a longer window between surgical procedures, provided tissue viability.

In the project, ovine uterine horns were dissected, perfused with cold heparinised saline followed by cryoprotectant and frozen using a Planer controlled-rate freezer with the method reported for ovarian cryopreservation by Campbell et al., 2014. The study showed that following cryopreservation, uterine tissue retains its functional characteristics (myometrial contractility and endometrial endocrine activity) but at a reduced rate though - potentially due to increased tissue damage as indicated by elevated lactate dehydrogenase release.

Dr Hernandez-Medrano mentions that this a pilot study and follow-up experiments are expected to improve on the above results which are encouraging and indicate that improvement of cryopreservation protocols taking account of infusion rate/time and the freezing rate might one day allow uterine tissue banking and transplantation in human patients.

This study was carried out in collaboration with Dr R Robinson from the Vet School at Nottingham University and Prof B Campbell. Konnary V, Robinson R, Campbell BK and Hernandez-Medrano JH. Evaluation of tissue after uterine cryopreservation following a slow freezing protocol. Fertility Conference 2019, ICC Birmingham, 3rd-5thJanuary 2019

Fertility 2019, held in Birmingham on 3rd January, was the Joint Conference of the Association of Clinical Embryologists, British Fertility Society and the Society for Reproduction & Fertility which Planer were proud to attend showing  their latest benchtop incubator and wireless alarm systems as well as the full controlled rate freezer range.

News Stories - 2018

News Stories - 2017