A better way to freeze stem cells and tissues

University of Ottawa Gazette • Posted: January 13, 2021

The best technological innovations are inspired by nature

Sugar-derived molecules developed by GlycoNet Investigators could serve as a cryoprotectant that can inhibit ice crystal growth, thereby preventing damage to cells and tissues when they’re being frozen.
Image showing the growth of ice crystals on a microscopic scale. (Photo credit: University of Ottawa)

They say the best technological innovations are inspired by nature, and for GlycoNet Investigator Dr. Robert Ben, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Ottawa, this holds true. He and his colleague (also a GlycoNet Investigator), Dr. Jason Acker at the University of Alberta, are in the process of commercializing a new, improved method for freezing stem cells and tissue samples. Ben says the idea “crystallized” after reading about teleost fish, a species that can survive in sub-zero environments because their bodies use anti-freeze proteins to inhibit the growth of ice crystals.

Ben and Acker’s company, PanTHERA CryoSolutions, recently secured a $4 million US investment from BioLife Solutions Inc. and Casdin Capital to support product development over the next 24 months, in exchange for exclusive, worldwide marketing and distribution rights to the technology for use in cell and gene therapy applications.

Read about how this technology works and the inspirations behind the company creation on the University of Ottawa Gazette.

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