Navigation Links
Scientists a step closer to understanding 'natural antifreeze' molecules
Date:6/23/2011

Scientists have made an important step forward in their understanding of cryoprotectants compounds that act as natural 'antifreeze' to protect drugs, food and tissues stored at sub-zero temperatures.

Researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Illinois, and Columbia University in New York, studied a particular type of cryoprotectants known as osmolytes. They found that small osmolyte molecules are better at protecting proteins than larger ones.

The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help scientists develop better storage techniques for a range of materials, including human reproductive tissue used in IVF.

Biological systems can usually only operate within a small range of temperatures. If they get too hot or too cold, the molecules within the system can become damaged (denatured), which affects their structure and stops them from functioning.

But certain species of fish, reptiles and amphibians can survive for months below freezing by entering into a kind of suspended animation. They are able to survive these extreme conditions thanks to osmolytes small molecules within their blood that act like antifreeze preventing damage to their vital organs.

These properties have made osmolytes attractive to scientists. They are used widely in the storage and testing of drugs and other pharmaceuticals; in food production; and to store human tissue like egg and sperm cells at very low temperatures (below 󈞔C) for a long period of time.

"If you put something like human tissue straight in the freezer, ice crystals start to grow in the freezing water and solutes solid particles dissolved in the water get forced out into the remaining liquid.

This can result in unwanted high concentrations of solutes, such as salt, which can be very damaging to the tissue," said Dr Lorna Dougan from the University of Leeds, who led the study. "The addition of cryoprotectants, such as glycerol, lowers the freezing temperature of water and prevents crystallisation by producing a 'syrupy' semi-solid state. The challenge is to know which cryoprotectant molecule to use and how much of it is necessary.

"We want to get this right so that we recover as much of the biological material as possible after re-thawing. This has massive cost implications, particularly for the pharmaceutical industry because at present they lose a large proportion of their viable drug every time they freeze it."

Dr Dougan and her team tested a range of different osmolytes to find out which ones are most effective at protecting the 3D structure of a protein. They used an atomic force microscope to unravel a test protein in a range of different osmolyte environments to find out which ones were most protective. They discovered that smaller molecules, such as glycerol, are more effective than larger ones like sorbitol and sucrose.

Dr Dougan said: "We've been able to show that if you want to really stabilise a protein, it makes sense to use small protecting osmolytes. We hope to use this discovery and future research to develop a simple set of rules that will allow scientists and industry to use the best process parameters for their system and in doing so dramatically increase the amount of material they recover from the freeze-thaw cycle."


'/>"/>

Contact: Hannah Isom
h.isom@leeds.ac.uk
44-011-334-35764
University of Leeds
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists uncover an unhealthy herds hypothesis
2. Qld fruit fly scientists in race against time
3. UC Riverside neuroscientists discovery could bring relief to epilepsy sufferers
4. Scientists breakthrough attracts new funding for high blood pressure research
5. Scientists develop a fatty kryptonite to defeat multidrug-resistant Super bugs
6. Scientists learn how horseweed shrugs off herbicide
7. Scientists pitch in to help keep salad mixes safe to eat
8. Top Latin-American scientists named 2011 Pew Fellows in the Biomedical Sciences
9. 22 of Americas most promising scientists selected as 2011 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences
10. Scientists find deadly amphibian disease in the last disease-free region of central America
11. Social scientists study impact of human adult stem cell research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... -- First quarter 2016:   , Revenues ... first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% ... and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per ... from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook ... 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... 20, 2016 The new GEZE ... compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. ... or the door interface with integration authorization management system, ... systems. The minimal dimensions of the access control and ... building installations offer considerable freedom of design with regard ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... TEL AVIV, Israel , April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... in Behavioral Authentication and Malware Detection, today announced the ... has already assumed the new role. Goldwerger,s ... for BioCatch, on the heels of the deployment of ... In addition, BioCatch,s behavioral biometric technology, which discerns unique ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... , May 3, 2016 ... (Genomics, Drug Discovery, Gene Expression) Lab-on-a-chip (IVD ... (Academics Institutes, Diagnostics Centers), Fabrication Technology (Microarrays, ... MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to reach ... 7.63 Billion in 2015, growing at a ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... , ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... accessibility to unique bioresearch materials from laboratories across the globe, today announced the ... to increase the pace of research toward treatment and prevention measures for the ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... Nashville Fertility Center ... A contingency of reproductive endocrinologists, including Dr. George Hill at Nashville ... to help them build families. , Ovation Fertility is a nationwide network of ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... Italy (PRWEB) , ... April 30, 2016 , ... The ... extraordinary textile design, the bioLogic team explored how bacterial properties can be applied to ... of using Natto bacteria, which move in response to humidity change. The team harvested ...
Breaking Biology Technology: