The ability to successfully cryopreserve cells without damaging them beyond future scientific and therapeutic use has long been a major concern in the bio-banking field. Some studies had shown that cryopreserved cells could be feasibly recovered, but required further expansion efforts in order to establish viable use.
But newer research is showing growing success in the field and even greater viability than previously thought.
But First, What is Cord Tissue Cryopreservation?
The tissue from the human umbilical cord is known to be a rich source of a specific type of stem cell called a mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs). These MSCs are multipotent, which means that they can differentiate into a wide range of cells, including those of the bone, cartilage, fat, and other tissues. Because of their broad differentiation potential, MSCs derived from cord tissue are currently the subject of over 300 clinical trials and hundreds more research studies. Yet, until recently, most of the research used MSCs that were extracted from fresh cord tissue, and there was little published data from MSCs isolated from cryopreserved, or frozen, tissue.
There were no significant differences between the fresh and the frozen groups, and viable MSCs were able to be isolated from both.
What Has More Research Uncovered About Cord Tissue Cryopreservation?
In the new studies, a number of different measurements of stem cell viability were assessed, including in comparison to “fresh” MSCs that had not been frozen since they were sourced. According to the data, there were no significant differences between the fresh and the frozen groups, and viable MSCs were able to be isolated from both, with greater success rates using the best practices for MSC cryopreservation as they have developed.
This new information will undoubtedly become useful for developing optimal strategies for preserving MSCs, especially as the option to store cord tissue for future use becomes more popular. Although this particular area of stem cell science and medicine is comparatively new, data like this further demonstrates both the great strides already made, and more importantly, the increasingly bright future of MSC-based medical practice.
“Cryopreserved Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Maintain Potency in a Retinal Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury Model: Toward an off-the-shelf Therapy”. Oliver W. Gramlich, et al., Scientific Reports Volume 6, Article number: 26463 (2016). https://www.nature.com/articles/srep26463