There are two ways to preserve and store stem cells: cryovials and cryobags. We will discuss the use of cryobags as compared to cryovials and illustrate how cryogenic research is being furthered by cryogenic bag storage.
Proper storage and preservation is important when working with biological samples to ensure viability. Storage and transport systems must guard against cross-contamination and be durable enough to avoid breaking at liquid nitrogen temperatures (-196 degrees Celsius). The plastic cryovial is a common storage option, but these are generally marked for vapor storage only (otherwise, the vials have a chance of exploding in liquid storage). Bag storage is an alternative solution to vial storage that reduces these risks.
What Is Cryogenic Bag Storage?
This method of storage uses plastic bags to hold blood, stem cells, bone marrow, and other biological samples that need to be kept at cryogenic temperatures. The bags are often placed into metal canisters for safe transport.
Research and Uses
Stem cell research, cord blood banks, IVF facilities, and medical research institutes use cryogenic bag storage to hold their samples.
When used in cord blood storage, the blood is placed in cryobags, slowly cooled, and then placed in liquid nitrogen (vapor or liquid phase) to keep it frozen until use. The blood must be frozen slowly so as not to kill the cells, and then kept at very low temperatures to ensure that the cells remain viable.
The use of cryobags limits the potential for cross-contamination between samples and liquid nitrogen. Vapor storage is becoming more popular, but liquid storage is still used. In liquid storage, samples are bathed in the same liquid, where contaminants can travel freely. Cryovials have screw cap lids, whereas cryobags are sealed shut and therefore airtight. These seals prevent outside contaminants from coming into contact with the stored cells.
Why Is It Beneficial?
Additionally, cryobags have a greater surface area. This larger surface area allows for more writing space for easy identification, as well as an even distribution of temperature throughout.
The cryobags are flexible and are able to be manipulated in ways that cryovials are not. In liquid storage, cryovials have a chance of exploding upon thawing, due to liquid nitrogen seeping into the vials and expanding. Cryobags, as stated before, are sealed shut. Due to their pliability and construction, they are better suited for storage in the liquid phase and are much less likely to explode.
Cryobags are designed to be durable, flexible, and are able to withstand very low temperatures and quick thawing. They can be stored in the liquid or vapor phase with little worry of contamination or combustion.
Canisters (usually made of aluminum or stainless steel) make cryobag transport safe and efficient.
Custom Biogenic Systems offers lightweight aluminum canisters with a handle and thumb hole for easy access.