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ISBER Releases Position Statement for Management and Use of Ultra Low Temperature Freezers

Vancouver-January 12, 2021--The International Society for the Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), which represents professional experts in biobanking, ultra-low temperature (ULT) storage, and cold chain management, has released its position statement listing key practices health agencies should consider to support the COVID-19 vaccine distribution with dedicated ULT freezers. The document, titled "Ultra Low Temperature Freezers: Key Considerations," provides evidence based guidance for those responsible for distribution, storage, and management of the vaccine, to resources that detail the fundamentals of safe and efficient ULT freezer management, shipping, and distribution.

"The global biobanking community has consolidated our knowledge and expertise into a brief one page resource. We aim to minimize the learning curve and to help people and health agencies new to ultra-low temperature storage avoid common pitfalls," said Piper Mullins, President-Elect of ISBER.

The document draws on accepted practices known to ensure robust ULT product storage and distribution that are routinely used by biorepositories. The document represents a consensus view from the biobanking community. The organization drew on the expertise of biorepository managers and industry vendors with further reference from the ISBER Best Practices, Fourth Edition. The statement intends to supplement guidance from national and local health agencies on managing the cold chain deployment of frozen COVID-19 vaccines.

 "We want ISBER to be the go-to resource for the growing number of people who are just learning about ultra-low storage and handling during this fraught time," said Associate Professor Daniel Catchpoole, President of ISBER. "As a scientific community who are experts in cold chain logistics of biological specimens, it is vital that our national health agencies draw on the expertise ISBER provides to guide the proper management of freezers for the distribution of biological therapeutics." 

To learn more about the association please visit www.isber.org.

About the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories

ISBER (www.isber.org) is the only global forum that addresses harmonization of scientific, technical, legal, and ethical issues relevant to repositories of biological and environmental specimens. ISBER fosters collaboration; creates education and training opportunities; provides a forum for the dissemination of state-of-the-art policies, processes, and research findings; and provides an international showcase for innovative technologies, products, and services. Together, these activities promote best practices that cut across the broad range of repositories that ISBER serves.

About the ISBER Best Practices

The ISBER Best Practices: Recommendations for Repositories Fourth Edition presents the most effective practices for the management of biological and environmental specimen collections and repositories. These are either evidence-based or consensus-based practices for collection, long-term storage, retrieval, and distribution of specimens. Development of best practices is a rigorous, consensus-based process that reflects advances in research and technology. To access, please visit: https://www.isber.org/page/BPR.

New Fellows Announced

New Fellows Announced

The Board of Governors is pleased to announce the recent approval of two new Fellows of the Society for Cryobiology: Erik Woods and Art DeVries. Erik and Art will be presented with their Fellow medals during a special session at CRYO2021, held in Chicago, July 20-23, 2021. 


Erik Woods


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2020 Election Results

Society for Cryobiology 2020 Election Results 

Executive Director, Nicole Evans, and myself are pleased to announce the results of the Society for Cryobiology 2020 Election for 3 Governors-at-Large 2021-2023.

The new Governors are:

John M. Baust, CPSI Biotech, USA
Shannon N. Tessier, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, USA
Christina Walters, USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, USA

To learn more about the new governors you can download their biographies and vision statements on the Society for Cryobiology website.

Together these newly elected Governors are truly representative of the many cryo sectors, representing industry, academia, and government. 

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all the candidates who stood for election, and to all members who took the time to vote. Voter turnout this year was 49%.  This is on par with last year, which came in at a 48% turnout.

If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact myself or Nicole.

With Best Wishes,
Adam Higgins
President
Society for Cryobiology

Asia's First Use of USA Organ Care System

Although a standard practice in many European countries, a medical team in Hong Kong used the Organ Care System for the first time on a human heart transplant. Invented in the USA, the Organ Care System is superior to traditional ice boxes for transporting organs by keeping the heart warm and beating with oxygenated blood up to 10 hours. Dr Timmy Au Wing-kuk, chief of Queen Mary Hospital’s cardiothoracic surgery department where the medical procedure was performed, says the implementation of the Organ Care System can increase the number of successful transplants by 5 to 10 each year. This transport method also allows medical teams to use hearts that would have been disqualified previously due to donor's age, organ condition, or travel distance. Read More...

2020 Election

Governor Nominations Open

The nominations committee is now inviting expressions of interest from all Society members in good standing for the position of Governor 2021-2023. 

Society for Cryobiology Governors take an active role in the decision making that guides the Society. Governors participate in quarterly Board meetings, and take on leadership responsibilities in various Society committees. They may also be involved in leadership roles in other Society activities of their interest, for example the Annual Meeting, or ad hoc projects. 

To express your interest please email Chair of the Nominating Committee, President Elect Dr. Greg Fahy. Please note all nominations are subject to approval by the nominations committee. This does not affect your right to nomination by petition as outlined in the society's bylaws

If your candidate nomination is accepted you will need to provide a detailed biography, statement outlining your vision for the Society, and a photograph for the election materials. 

The deadline to express your interest in standing as a candidate for Governor is September 14, 2020. The election will be held October 12-26, 2020.

The 2020 nominating committee is: 

Greg Fahy (Chair, President-Elect)
Adam Higgins (President)
Steven Mullen (Treasurer)
Erik Woods (Governor)
Ido Braslavsky (Governor)

Are Cheaper Cryo-Electron Microscopes on the Horizon?

Over the past six years, researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have developed an easier and cheaper version of the traditional cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM). Opposed to the traditional high-energy electron cryo-EM, this new style utilizes a low-energy electron beam. The low-energy electron cryo-EM allows scientists to better observe atoms with low atomic mass such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, which are primary elements in biomolecules. Another benefit to this new cryo-EM is the ability for scientists to observe both amplitude and phase whereas the traditional method only provides information on phase. Drawbacks include an image resolution significantly inferior to a conventional cryo-EM, but researchers could use this new method to gauge their sample quality before proceeding to the more costly, high-energy electron method. READ MORE

Cord Blood Goes Missing

Where are my child's stem cells?

That's what 200-300 Dutch parents were asking when they discovered Cryo-Save was on the brink of bankruptcy and had transferred their children's umbilical cord cells long-term cryo storage to the PBKM FamiCord Group in Poland. A FamiCord representative confirmed that 2% of approximately 230,000 clients’ samples did not arrive at the laboratories. Cryo-Save now faces a transplant law investigation in response to transporting these samples without the client's consent. READ MORE

Want to prevent this happening to your biobank? Check out
ISBER's best practice guide



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Heart Preservation Breakthrough

The ULiSSESTM device won the 2019 grand prize for the "Create the Future" Design Contest, an annual competition hosted by Tech Briefs Media Group and has now been put to the test. Developed over decades by teams at the Univerisity of Austin and Vascular Perfusion Solutions, this device could increase the transportation time of donor's hearts and other vital organs from 4 hours to 24 hours. 

The ability to preserve donor organs for 24 hours would revolutionize organ transplants, creating an opportunity for organs to be transported around the world. With five successful 24-hour trials on pig heart preservation and one dog heart preservation, the next ULiSSESTM trials will involve pig heart transplants with a goal to move into human trials by 2021. READ MORE

Special Announcement: ASRM Committee Opinion

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recently announced in a committee opinion that ovarian tissue cryopreservation (OTC) is no longer considered experimental and can be used in prepubertal patients or when there is not time for ovarian stimulation. This is a major step for the field and provides young patients with more options to preserve their future fertility.

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Call for 2023 Meeting Locations

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SLTB Report

Written by Estefania Paredes (University of Vigo, ES), Dominic Olver (University of Saskatchewan, CA), Peter Kilbride (Asymptote Ltd., UK)
The Society for Low Temperature Biology annual meeting took place in the sunny and welcoming city of Seville (Spain) for its 55th edition in October 2-4th, 2019. The meeting started with a workshop in collaboration with the Stem User group (SCUG) and the Andalusian Initiative for Advanced therapies.

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British Woman Survives 6 Hours After Cardiac Arrest

A recent hiking trip turned frigid after thirty-four-year-old Audrey Schoeman and her husband Rohan got caught in a snowstorm in the Pyrenees mountain range, Spain. Rohan called emergency services after Schoeman passed out. 

Dr. Jordi Riera and the team at Vall d'Hebron explained that Schoeman's extreme and rapid cooling to 18°C, causing her cardiac arrest, also slowed her brain metabolism which allowed the organs to better cope with the lack of oxygen. The team used an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to keep her alive. Warming up slowly, Schoeman regained consciousness 6 hours after her cardiac arrest. Despite some loss of sensitivity in her hands, Schoeman has made a full recovery and returned home. Read the full article. 

This "miracle" is the sort of biological phenomenon the team at the University of Maryland is attempting to duplicate with acute trauma victims. Read more...




First HIV Positive Sperm Bank Opened

Just before World Aids Day on December 1st, New Zealand just became the first country to establish a sperm bank called Sperm Positive for HIV positive donors who have a consistently undetectable viral load. Damien Rule-Neal, one of the first donors, said: "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment." Read the full article HERE.

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First Human Placed in Suspended Animation

A team of medics at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine have announced their first attempt at placing a human in suspended animation. The Federal Drug Administration approved the team for 10 trials where a patient will be rapidly cooled to 10-15 °C by replacing their blood with ice-cold saline, ceasing nearly all brain activity. Hypothetically, medical professionals then have up to 2 hours to operate before the "suspended" patient is rewarmed and their heart started again. The team's trial procedure officially called Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation (EPR), is only allowed to be trialed on acute trauma victims (i.e. gunshot or stab wounds) who have already suffered cardiac arrest and have less than a 5% survival rate.
Read the full article HERE.

Health & Safety - Liquid Nitrogen Injuries Continue

 
A woman in Florida, USA, nearly died in October 2019 after ingesting a drink with liquid nitrogen. Ms. Stacey Wagers saw a waiter pour a liquid onto another patron's dessert, giving it a neat "smoky" effect. The waiter poured some of the same liquid into Wager's glass of water after her friend commented on the cool effect. Wager became immediately and violently ill, resulting in her gall bladder and parts of her stomach being removed. Read more...

2019 Election

2019 Elections

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CRYO2019 Plenary Speakers in the News

CRYO2019 Plenary speakers Bart Panis and Oliver Ryder have featured in a recent news article by Katharine Gammon, a freelance science writer in California, who attended CRYO2019 as our guest. Ryder, the director of the "Frozen Zoo", presented on the continuous efforts made by the San Diego zoo to cryopreserve genetic material from over 10,000 species. Panis, a senior researcher with the Leuven, Bioversity International, discussed with Gammon the massive ice cave-turned-seed bank, Svalbard seed vault, with its 820,000 seed samples and the challenges surrounding flora cryopreservation. Read the full article HERE

Organ Transplant Survival Rate to Triple

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School began supercooling rat livers 5 years ago with the intention of being able to preserve human organs for more than the current 9 hours. Society for Cryobiology members, Reinier de Vries and Korkut Uygun, contributed to the research team's current experiment on human livers that were unsuitable for transplants. The research team's ultimate goal is a true organ bank where organs can be preserved for years instead of hours or days and in essence, eliminate the hundreds of deaths that occur while patients wait for a suitable transplant. Read the full article HERE.

Postponing Menopause

Springboarding off the research done to preserve female's fertility before cancer treatments, researchers are now applying the same techniques to women in an attempt to postpone menopause. Researchers remove an ovarian tissue sample, use cryopreservation to preserve the pre-menopausal tissue, and then, even decades later, thaw and graft the tissue back onto the body. This tissue can then restore the reduced hormones and delay menopause. Tissue samples from nine women are being preserved, ready to be used just as the women begin to enter menopause.

Of course the younger and healthier the original tissue sample, the more effective it will be in delaying menopause. A tissue sample from a 40-year-old woman is expected to delay menopause by only 5 years, but future women in their 20s may be able to postpone menopause or even extend their fertility window by 20 to 30 years. READ MORE...

The First Lunar Colonist!

You shouldn't expect any Lunar base construction yet; the first know lunar "colonists" are Tardigrades. These microscopic "water bears" can survive in nearly all of Earth's extreme environmental conditions - boiling, freezing, high pressure, and vacuum - everything except ultraviolet radiation. 

An experiment about the Tardigrades' adaptability to space literally crash-landed during the Israeli moon mission, Beresheet, on April 11th, scattering the thousands of tiny creatures across the moon's surface. However, without the presence of liquid water their survival rate is next to zero. READ MORE...