Freezing Eggs Is Only The Beginning: New Discovery Could Lead To Cryopreservation Of Tissues, Organs

Medical Daily | Ali Venosa

Cryopreservation, the freezing of biological material for preservation purposes, is already in widespread use for applications, such as saving semen, embryos, blood, and plant seeds. When it comes to tissues and organs, however, the process is more problematic.

A research team from the College of Engineering at Oregon State University discovered a new approach to the process that could eventually allow wider use of “vitrification,” or ice-free cryopreservation.

“This could be an important step toward the preservation of more complex tissues and structures,” said Adam Higgins, an associate professor in the OSU School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, in a statement.

The issue with cryopreservation is that crystallization often occurs when water freezes; this risks damaging the tissues and cells the process is meant to preserve, Higgins explained. It is for this reason that the researchers explored various types of cryoprotectants aimed at reducing cell damage during the freezing process. One of these is ethylene glycol, also known as the compound used in automobile antifreeze. Continue reading