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Royan Global Education Network (Royan GENE)

The core essence and beliefs of creating Royan Global Education Network focus on bringing all scientific activities and research of multilateral interests under one umbrella so that all those interested in various fields of activities can enjoy the benefits and seize the opportunities coming along with its activities and programs which appear as two phenomena called “Hall of Fame” and “Dialogue with Fame”. As per this spirit of unity, the 7th round Royan GENE program was held on 14 March 2022 as a Hall of Fame in the realm of Cryobiology in Organs and Sexual Samples. This Hall of Fame webinar featured highly notable lecturers from all around the world whose topics and speeches led to a fruitful webinar and discussion sessions, starting with the lectures of Prof. Gregory M.Fahy, president of Society for Cryobiology; Prof. James Benson, University of Saskatchewan; and Prof. M.H Nasr-Esfahani, director of animal biotechnology from Royan Institute. The topics and lectures represented through this program were mainly concerned with:

Vital Organ Cryopreservation
Mathematical modeling and optimization of sperm cryopreservation
Evaluation of cryoinjury of spermatozoa after slow or rapid freeze-thawing techniques



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5th Royan Symposium on Cryobiology and Biobanking

The 5th Royan Symposium on Cryobiology and Biobanking was held here at Royan Research Institute (Tehran, Iran) on February 23, 2022, starting with a message from Society for Cryobiology President, Professor Gregory M. Fahy. 

This year's virtual symposium enjoyed over 160 participants and highly notable lecturers from all around the world whose topics and speeches enriched the symposium far beyond what was expected, leading to fruitful discussion sessions. The main topics of this one-day symposium were cryoinjury, cryopreservation of reproductive cells & tissue, biobanks, and cryopreservation in COVID-19 times.

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Preserving Marine Researcher's Legacy

Dr. Dan Distel and his team have launched a non-profit marine genome bank at the Northeastern University Marine Science Center called the Ocean Genome Legacy Center. The OGL mission is to explore and preserve the wealth of information contained in the genomes (total DNA) of endangered, rare, unusual, and ecologically critical marine organisms and to make these primary materials available for researchers to access for future studies. So far, the OGL has amassed over 29,000 DNA samples that represent over 3,000 identified marine species. Often marine scientists spend a lifetime amassing a large number of samples and years of research notes, but what happens when they retire? Now they can donate the wealth of their collection to the OGL. The OGL doesn't just stop at the physical storage of genome samples in freezers. These DNA curators also collect the researcher's notes regarding each sample - dates, depths, locations, sample collection methods, etc. Any ambiguity leads the team back to the original researcher for clarification. This way when future researchers want to study or compare a similar sample, all the relevant context is available. Read more...

Human Egg Storage Laws Change in UK

Patients in the UK will now have more time to decide their family planning after government changes the egg, sperm, and embryo storage regulations. Presently fertility storage is limited based on medical needs and limited to a 10 year period. After the successful campaign by the Progress Educational Trust, the new regulations will open fertility storage to more people who choose fertility storage for medical or social reasons and provide a 10-year renewable storage cycle for a maximum of 55 years. Fertility advances mean human eggs can be stored indefinitely without deterioration using vitrification, making the current 10-year limit obsolete. Additional conditions surrounding third-party donors and posthumous use will be investigated and regulated separately.

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Welcome to our New Associate Editors

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Nucharin Songsasen and Dr. Kelvin Brockbank as our new Associate Editors for Cryobiology. Alongside Barbara Reed and Wim Wolkers, this brings the total number of Associate Editors to four. 

  Dr. Nucharin Songsasen joined the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in 2002. She has led the Global Canid Conservation program within SCBI since 2002, expanding the program's efforts from the laboratory to field conservation in countries such as Brazil, Thailand, and MyanmarHer laboratory focuses on developing technologies to grow ovarian follicles from domestic dogs and cats in vitro as models for preserving genetics from wild canids and felids. In December 2018 Dr. Songsasen became the head of the Center for Species Survival within SCBI. Dr. Songsasen has been a member of the Cryobiology editorial board since 2012.
     
  Dr. Kelvin Brockbank is the Founder and CEO of Tissue Testing Technologies, Research Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University, and Adjunct Professor of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology at the Medical University of South Carolina. His research interests include cell, tissue and organ cryopreservation for test systems and transplantation and manufacturing methods for cell-based tissue engineered therapy products. Dr. Brockbank has been a member of the Cryobiology editorial board since 2016.

SfC Participates in First ATP-Bio Summit

On September 13, SfC President, Adam Higgins, and Executive Director, Nicole Evans, attended the first ATP-Bio Summit. The summit introduced ATP-Bio key faculty, industry, NGO and non-profit members, and outlined thrust areas such as Biological Engineering, Controlling Water During Freezing, and Rapid and Uniform Rewarming.

On October 12-13 ATP-BIo will be hosting a year one summary and virtual NSF site visit. This involves 2 days of presentations by ATP-Bio and questions from the NSF and responses from ATP-Bio. 

Society for Cryobiology Joins ATP-Bio

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Coral Reef Cryopreservation

In a recent interview with the Hawaiian Public Radio, Mary Hagedorn, a marine biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology, described their ongoing efforts to preserve coral samples for future generations. At its inception, the Hagedorn Lab first froze the sperm and stem cells of two species of coral from Kāneʻohe Bay and currently has 48 coral species preserved from around the world. Society for Cryobiology member, Jessica Bouwmeester describes the process - "Everything is stored at minus 185 degrees Celsius. So we can keep it like that for years, decades, for as long as we need it," Bouwmeester said. International collaboration has provided samples from the Great Barrier Reef, the Caribbean, Hawai'i, Frech Polynesia, and the Gulf of Mexico. But with only 48 out of 1,000 known coral species preserved, they've barely scratched the surface. Read more.

24,000-year-old 'zombies' revived and cloned from Arctic permafrost

Back from the dead... Bdelloid Rotifers are multicellular microscopic animals with a wheel-like ring of tiny hairs that circle their mouths and that live in freshwater environments. They've been around for about 50 million years. Now, scientists from the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, Russia have resuscitated rotifers that froze in ancient Siberian permafrost during the latter part of the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 million to about 11,700 years ago). These researchers drilled to 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) below the Siberia Alazeya River surface to collect their samples. The soil was radiocarbon dated at ~24,000 years old. Once thawed in the lab, these "zombie" rotifers reanimated and began reproducing asexually through parthenogenesis and created clones that were their genetic duplicates. Read the full new article...

New Techniques for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara, University of Southern California (USC), and the biotechnology company Regenerative Patch Technologies LLC (RPT) have discovered a new method for preserving RPT's stem cell-based therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in aging populations. This new research uses a flexible scaffold, about 18 mm2, to optimize the cryopreservation of a single layer of ocular cells generated from human embryonic stem cells. Currently in clinical trials, this implant can be frozen, stored for long periods, distributed to clinical sites, then thawed and immediately implanted into the patient's eyes. The extended shelf-life and on-demand distribution will increase the number of patients who can benefit from this treatment. Read the full article. 

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New Method to Cryopreserve Fruit Fly

 The Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly, a critical genetic research model, has eluded scientist's attempt to cryopreserve the embryos until now. A research team from the University of Minnesota and Center for Advanced Technologies for the Preservation of Biological Systems (ATP-Bio) including Society for Cryobiology members Drs. Le Zhan and John Bischof, introduce a new method of cryopreserving Drosophila embryos with >50% of the embryos hatching post cryopreservation and >25% of the resulting larvae maturing to full adults. According to the Society for Cryobiology member Dr. John Bischof "Our multi-disciplinary team is pleased to contribute an accessible protocol to cryopreserve numerous strains of Drosophila, an important biomedical model, while also hopefully informing other insect and related species embryo preservation." Humans share more than 50% of their genes with the Drosophila, and these seemingly insignificant flies have already been vital for Alzehimer or Zika research. Read the news article or the original research abstract.

Automated Embryo Cryopreservation

Improved cryopreservation of embryos in the field of IVF would increase fertility odds for Would-Be parents and the health of their future babies. A research collaboration between the National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Iran and McGill University and the University of British Columbia in Canada introduce an independent, automated microfluidic system to replace the water with cryoprotectants (CPAs) during the embryo vitrification process. Traditional CPA pipetting techniques can result in abrupt osmotic shock causing molecular damage to the embryos. In this new method, the embryos are placed on a chip that automatically controls the CPA's concentration and flow rate, significantly reducing potential human error. Read the full news article or the Biomicrofluidics abstract.

Reversing Osteoarthritis in Mice

A research team from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Wuhan Union Hospital have developed a new medium, named Cryogel, to reverse osteoarthritis in mice with slow releasing stem cells. This sponge-like material is created at subzero temperatures and is extremely porous. After seeded the Cryogel with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), it is implanted at the affected joint. "It takes about two weeks for half of the implanted cells to leave, but their regenerative effects stick around for longer," said corresponding author Wei Tong from the Department of Orthopedics of Union Hospital. "So it is possible that the therapeutic result comes indirectly, via the stem cells secreting epidermal growth factors, which stimulate cell proliferation and healing, rather than directly becoming newly formed cartilage in the joint." The team also reports that this technique reduces the required stem cell amount by 90%. Read the news article or the original abstract published in Chemical Engineering Journal.

Biostasis Research Institute Launched

An ambitious project to create a human "Organ Bank", the Biostasis Research Institute (BRI), is underway in conjunction with the Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Minnesota. Society for Cryobiology member, co-founder and Director of the BRI, Jedediah Lewis, says "This institute is another major step forward in the ability to store life. These technologies can bring to science and medicine what other domains, such as energy and agriculture, have taken for granted for centuries: practical, widespread distribution of humanity's most important lifesaving resources. The benefits for human health will be profound." Society for Cryobiology members Dr. Korkut Uygun and Dr. Shannon Tessier are part of the leadership team for the Center for Biostasis at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of two research facilities to be built, which will develop and apply new technologies for controlling ice formation at sub-freezing temperatures and create living systems able to undergo extreme temperature changes. Society for Cryobiology member Dr. John Bischof is part of the leadership team for the other research center, the Organ and Tissue Preservation Center at the University of Minnesota, which will focus on new reanimation technologies to restore and revive the cryopreserved organs. The BRI's three initial objectives are preserving organs for infants and children in need of a transplant, creating the first functional human brain banks, and extending the storage time of kidney transplants from days to weeks. Read the full article.

BioRescue Prepares for Northern White Rhinos

The international team of scientists and researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research are pleased to announce the introduction of four new northern white rhino (NWR) embryos, totaling nine embryos ready for implantation into surrogate southern white rhinos (SWRs). Oocytes (immature egg cells) were collected from Fatu, one of the two last remaining NWR, and artificially inseminated using frozen sperm from deceased NWR males. The team is currently preparing the family environment including carefully selecting potential surrogate SWR and sterilizing Owuan, a SWR male, whose behavior will provide key indicators to the surrogate's reproductive timing. Read the full article...

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.

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

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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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.

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