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How long can you store stem cells?

Regenerative medicine and stem cell applications are an advancing science, used to treat illnesses and immune disorders and, ultimately, save lives.

We can store these blood and cell samples using cryogenics, but what are the applications of these materials and how long can they survive in cold storage?

Stem cell applications

While most cells in the body are differentiated and serve a specific function, stem cells are undifferentiated, meaning they can develop into many cell types that can serve numerous purposes. These cells are able to divide indefinitely, and in the process, can either remain a stem cell or transform into a differentiated cell to aid the body. There are several types of stem cells, including embryonic from human embryos harvested via in‐vitro fertilisation, adult stem cells from developed organs and tissues in the human body, and cord blood stem cells.

Cord blood is a rich source of this kind of cell. Following the birth of a baby, cord blood remains in the umbilical cord and placenta which can be used in the treatment of various genetic disorders and cancers. This is because, much like bone marrow, it is rich in blood‐producing stem cells, or haematopoietic stem cells. These are able to repair the body by developing into the different types of cell that the body might need, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets.

Because of their inherent flexibility, stem cells can be used to:

Cord blood storage

Given the importance of blood and stem cell samples, they need to be stored safely and securely. Cryogenic freezing from Air Products ensures that the cells can be kept for long‐term storage using a technique called controlled‐rate freezing. This technique uses the vapour phase of cryogenic nitrogen to prepare blood bags before they are housed in a protective box or cassette. For added safety, the multi‐compartment cryo‐bags are encased in overwrap to further protect the samples against cross‐contamination. Leading scientists believe these cells correctly stored with proper cryopreservation, can be kept for decades so that they can be used for future research and applications at any time.

The quality of the freeze doesn't stop there ‐ cryogenic freezers such as those from the MVE range feature the lowest nitrogen consumption and some of the industries longest hold times. Vapour units are able to maintain a consistent temperature of ‐190 °C even at the top box. Temperature variation throughout the freezer is excellent at 5°C, units can even maintain temperatures for up to 23 days without liquid nitrogen supply. It's also worth noting that Air Products liquid nitrogen for Life Science is MDD certified to ISO13485 Medical Device Directive, so you can rest easy knowing your project and samples are in capable hands.

For long‐lasting storage solutions, Air Products can assist you every step of the way with your cryogenics project. Learn more on our website, or contact us today to find out how we can help you.


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