Red Blood Cell Phenotype Preserved by Bio-Inspired Cryo-Ink during Nanoliter Vitrification

An innovative approach of cryopreserving red blood cells using vitrification in conjunction with bio-printing technologies has been described in a new collaborative study published this week in Advanced Materials. The study, led by Dr. Utkan Demirci, is a collaboration involving scientists from Stanford University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Case Western Reserve University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Akron Biotechnology.

Titled “Bio-Inspired Cryo-Ink Preserves Red Blood Cell Phenotype and Function During Nanoliter Vitrification”, the study describes the use of a bio-printer which generates nanoliter droplets containing red blood cells (RBCs). The RBCs can then be rapidly vitrified using a bio-inspired cryoprotectant. The cryoprotectant in question is glycerol- and DMSO-free and based on ectoine, a naturally occurring organic compound, while the cryo-printer is composed of an ejector-based system which produces nanoliter-volume droplets.

“As we are going into a new phase of advanced bio/nano-manufacturing technologies, where we create 3-D tissue like constructs mimicking native tissues for drug testing, cellular therapies for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine; there is a significant need to develop tools and innovative materials for biopreserving these living constructs. We need to focus on preserving function with fundamentally different approaches to biopreservation. The technology results in improved RBC morphology, mechanics, and function compared to other cryopreservation approaches, and minimizes RBC cryo-injury associated with the freezing process,” said Dr. Rami El Assal, the first author in this study. Moreover, avoiding glycerol or DMSO is a highly desirable advantage.

“We are extremely pleased to have contributed to this study which has enormous implications for blood banking,” said Dr. Claudia Zylberberg, whose lab at Akron Biotechnology developed the glycerol- and DMSO-free cryoprotectants used in the study.

Other authors of the study include Rami El Assal, Sinan Guven, Umut Atakan Gurkan, Irep Gozen, Hadi Shafiee, Sedef Dalbeyler, Noor Abdalla, Gawain Thomas, Wendy Fuld, Ben M. W. Illigens, Jessica Estanislau, Joseph Khoory, Richard Kaufman, Claudia Zylberberg, Neal Lindeman, Qi Wen, Ionita Ghiran and Utkan Demirci.

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