For women diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment may cause irreversible ovarian damage. IVF prior to treatment is only available to women with a partner or those willing to use donor sperm and is contra indicated for those with hormone sensitive tumours and, additionally, may use up valuable time.
Ovarian tissue transplantation can overcome these problems and now a new freezing and transplantation service, the first in the UK to be fully funded by the NHS, will enable specialists in cancer and blood disorders to refer patients to the Royal Free London, ahead of their treatments, for ovarian tissue freezing down, cryostorage and subsequent implantation to hopefully restore fertility or prevent early menopause.
For pre-pubertal girls and some women with hormone sensitive tumours (for example some types of breast cancer), ovarian tissue freezing is the only way that they can preserve their fertility. Patients who are cured by their chemo/radiotherapy can have cryopreserved ovary tissue recovered, thawed and surgically placed onto the remaining ovary or into the lining of the abdominal cavity.
The treatment involves the patient undergoing keyhole surgery to remove one ovary which can then be processed in the hospital’s laboratory, carefully control rate frozen down and then stored at a liquid nitrogen temperature of -196 ℃. The controlled freezing facilitates a crucial ice nucleation step using a pre programmed series of cooling rates; once frozen safely the tissue is ready for cryo-storage. When needed the ovarian slices may be thawed and transplanted back to the patient post treatment - after months or years.
Around the world there have been well over a hundred successful births as a result of this treatment and many other women have benefitted from restoration of their menstrual cycle after tissue implantation.
Consultant Paul Hardiman (pictured here, above right) said: “We have modelled our protocols on how it is done at the Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, one of the largest hospitals in Denmark, where they have been freezing human ovarian tissue since 1999. This is a well-established method in Europe, the US and Japan but the UK has lagged behind.”
Natalie Getreu (pictured left) is part of the team that has enabled this new service and she is also looking to increase the knowledge base and is researching methods previously used to reduce ischemia in other transplanted tissues, to the human ova
The Royal Free London has a unique mix of facilities and expertise in tissue freezing and cell therapy including the services of Professors Barry Fuller and Mark Lowdell, and is also a leading kidney and liver transplant centre and the principle UK centre for cell and tissue medicines. The new service will be offered to patients within the London but is planned to expand across the UK soon.
DATAssure™ combined temperature and level sensor released
Since its introduction in 2017 the DATAssure™ wireless and monitoring system has proven itself as the ‘go to’ monitoring system for laboratories around the world.
The easy to use and intuitive system provides a wide array of different sensors, many of which are designed by Planer for use within our customers’ specific applications, and has become a huge success.
One of the specialised probes that had previously been available on the DATAcentre system (the predecessor to DATAssure) was the combined temperature and level sensor for liquid nitrogen sample storage dewars - unique to the Planer system.
We are pleased to announce that the combined temperature and level sensor is now available for the DATAssure system, both 433MHz and 2.4GHz versions.
Part numbers for the new sensors can be found in the table below.
|Description||Part Number||Detailed Description|
|Temperature & Level
Dewar - up to 50 litres
|GDDA-TL-DEWAR-433||Premium combined temperature and level sensor for 433 MHZ DATAssure systems, formable to dewar shape to ensure no interference when entering or exiting samples|
|Temperature & Level
Dewar - up to 50 litres
|GDDA-TL-DEWAR-2400||Premium combined temperature and level sensor for 2.4GHz DATAssure systems, formable to dewar shape to ensure no interference when entering or exiting samples|
Range of "standard" sensors now available
Many of the premium sensor solutions, like the temperature level sensor, Planer has developed are bespoke sensors designed to provide the optimal solution to monitoring a specific parameter or a specific piece of equipment.
However we are frequently asked for more cost effective solutions. Therefore, we are also pleased to announce that as well as the premium sensor we already provide, we are adding a new range of standard sensors which will give more cost effective, although not optimal, solutions to monitoring requirements.
Details for all the new sensors can be found in the table below:
|Description||Part Number||Detailed Description|
|For 433 MHz Systems|
|Temperature - Benchtop Incubator - Standard||GDDA-T-BT-BAS433||Standard solution provides a flat ribbon cable sensor which can be stuck down inside the chamber and the cable ran out through the chamber seal. Requires one per chamber|
|Temperature - Dewar - Straight Sensor - Standard||GDDA-T-DEWSTR-BAS433||Standard solution incorporating stiff 370mm temperature sensor which can be inserted through the dewar lid to monitor the temperature inside the dewar chamber (requires hole to be drilled through dewar lid for installation)|
|Temperature - Dewar - Curved Sensor - Standard||GDDA-T-DEWCUR-BAS433||Standard solution incorporating flexible formable 1500mm temperature sensor which can be inserted through the dewar lid to monitor the temperature inside the dewar chamber (requires modification to dewar lid for installation)|
|Temperature - Fridge -45 to +45 - Standard||GDDA-TEMP-45-BAS433||Standard solution using NTC 5K sensor with round artic grade cable which will need to be inserted around the door seal. Will measure down to -45 °C.|
|Temperature - minus 40 Freezer - Standard||GDDA-TEMP-50-BAS433||Standard solution using NTC 5K sensor with round artic grade cable which will need to be inserted around the door seal. Will measure down to -50 °C.|
|Temperature - minus 80 Freezer - Standard||GDDA-TEMP-100-BAS433||Standard solution using PT1000 sensor with round artic grade cable which will need to be inserted around the door seal. Will measure down to -100 °C.|
|For 2.4 GHz Systems|
|Temperature - Benchtop Incubator - Standard||GDDA-T-BT-BAS2400||Standard solution provides a flat ribbon cable sensor which can be stuck down inside the chamber and the cable ran out through the chamber seal. Requires one per chamber.|
|Temperature - Dewar - Straight Sensor - Standard||GDDA-T-DEWSTR-BAS2400||Standard solution incorporating stiff 370mm temperature sensor which can be inserted through the dewar lid to monitor the temperature inside the dewar chamber (requires hole to be drilled through dewar lid for installation)|
|Temperature - Dewar - Curved Sensor - Standard||GDDA-T-DEWCUR-BAS2400||Standard solution incorporating flexible formable 1500mm temperature sensor which can be inserted through the dewar lid to monitor the temperature inside the dewar chamber (requires modification to dewar lid for installation)|
|Temperature - Fridge -45 to +45 - Standard||GDDA-TEMP-45-BAS2400||Standard solution using NTC 5K sensor with round artic grade cable which will need to be inserted around the door seal. Will measure down to -45 °C.|
|Temperature - minus 40 Freezer - Standard||GDDA-TEMP-50-BAS2400||Standard solution using NTC 5K sensor with round artic grade cable which will need to be inserted around the door seal. Will measure down to -50 °C.|
|Temperature - minus 80 Freezer - Standard||GDDA-TEMP-100-BAS2400||Standard solution using PT1000 sensor with round artic grade cable which will need to be inserted around the door seal. Will measure down to -100 °C.|
On the 29th March 2019 the UK is due to leave the European Union. At the current time negotiations on the new relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU are in a state of flux but a period of adjustment after that date seems likely.
However the unexpected can happen and so we, at Planer, have contingency plans in place for an unmanaged departure. In that event:
(1) Our interactions and transactions with the UK and countries outside the EU will remain unchanged.
(2) As we have exported to 85 countries since 1973 we are well versed in tariff and customs procedures so changes regarding shipments to and from the EU under any new rules should be routinely accommodated. We have a Customs Deferment facility under which we can import goods from around the world. Our products and components generally have low or no duties (import and export), being medical equipment.
(3) Some of our products are registered as medical devices across the world and will of course continue to comply with UK, US, Chinese, Russian, Asian and other areas as they currently do. When Britain leaves the EU we anticipate a period of equivalence with Europe.
(4) None of our staff will be impacted by any potential changes to immigration policy therefore we will be working as normal here at our Sunbury headquarters, ensuring product and services are available when required.
(5) Like many UK companies we have ordered extra stocks of parts that we import from any EU suppliers and we have sufficient to meet customer demand for quite a long period. We do not anticipate problems with components or products shipped into the UK. Extra staff will be available to minimise any impact and we are working with our freight partners to make sure goods can be shipped in the most efficient way.
We hope that a satisfactory agreement between the EU and UK will be achieved and that none of our contingency plans will be necessary. I would like to reassure all our customers in the UK, in the European Union and worldwide that the team here at Planer are confident products will be available globally just as they have been for the last 45 years.
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
The development of an artificial 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
The 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 incubator, DATAssure™ laboratory wireless alarm and monitory system and our range of cryogenic freezers.
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 https://tinyurl.com/ydggxdof
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.
"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.