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Central biobank for drug research
Date:9/3/2014

Such quantities are needed because a single drug screening involves testing several million cells. The main biobank facility is being built in the English city of Cambridge and an identical "mirror site" will be set up at the IBMT's Sulzbach location in Germany.

Gently Freezing Cells

The IBMT was brought on board for EBiSC by virtue of the comprehensive expertise it gained through participation in the EU's "Hyperlab" and "CRYSTAL" projects. For EBiSC, IBMT scientists are responsible for freezing the cells and for automating cell cultivation and the biobank itself. For an efficient long-term storage of functional stem cells, they have to be cooled down to temperatures of below 130 degrees Celsius in a controlled way. The scientists have to prepare the cells so they can survive the cold shock of nitrogen gas. The IBMT has, for instance, developed technologies that allow cells to be frozen in an extremely gentle way. "Cells don't like being removed from the surface they are grown on, but that's what people used to do in order to freeze them. Our method allows the cells to stay adherent," explains Neubauer.

Just as with foodstuffs, stem cells depend on an unbroken cold chain to preserve their functionality and viability. The scientists store the cells in special containers or cryotanks each measuring one by two meters. To remove a particular sample, the scientists have to open the cryotank. The problem is that this exposes all the other samples to warmer ambient air, causing them to begin to thaw out. "It's just like when you go to your refrigerator at home it's not a good idea to leave the door open too long," says Neubauer. She and her colleagues at the IBMT and industry partner Askion GmbH have together developed a stem cell biobank complete with protective hoods that protect the other samples whenever the cryotank is opened. In addition to maintaining the temperature, the hoods help keep another key shelf-life criterion, humidit
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Contact: Julia Neubauer
julia.neubauer@ibmt.fraunhofer.de
0049-689-498-0258
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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