Stem Cells: How Long can They be Stored?

Image Credit: Air Products PLC

The science of regenerative medicine and stem cell applications is continually advancing. These techniques are employed in the treatment of illnesses and immune disorders, ultimately saving lives.

Blood and cell samples can be stored using cryogenics, but it is important to be aware of the applications of these materials and how long they can they survive in cold storage.

Stem cell applications

The majority of the body’s cells are differentiated and designed to serve a certain function. Stem cells are undifferentiated, however, meaning they have the potential to develop into a diverse range of cell types able to serve various purposes.

Stem cells are capable of dividing indefinitely, and during this process, they can either remain a stem cell or change into a differentiated cell to serve a specific function in the body.

There are numerous types of stem cells; for example, embryonic stem cells from human embryos harvested via in‐vitro fertilization, adult stem cells from developed tissues and organs in the human body, and cord blood stem cells.

Cord blood is a rich source of this form of stem cell. After a baby is born, cord blood remains in the umbilical cord and placenta. This cord blood can be employed in the treatment of a range of cancers and genetic disorders.

Like bone marrow, cord blood is rich in blood‐producing (hematopoietic) stem cells that are able to repair the body by developing into the various types of cell that the body may require; for example, red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets.

Stem cells are inherently flexible, meaning they can be used to:

  • Generate cells in a laboratory to replace damaged tissues or diseased cells in the body with healthy ones.
  • Treat illnesses and diseases, for example, cancers or blood diseases, in the process of cord blood transplantation.
  • Facilitate better research on these diseases, helping discover their cause to aid in future successful treatment.

Cord blood storage

Because blood and stem cell samples are vitally important, these must be stored securely and safely. Cryogenic freezing technology from Air Products allows cells to be kept for long‐term storage via a technique known as controlled‐rate freezing.

This technique leverages the vapor phase of cryogenic nitrogen in order to prepare blood bags prior to them being housed in a protective cassette or box.

To further enhance safety, the multi‐compartment cryo‐bags are enclosed in overwrap to protect the samples against cross‐contamination.

Leading scientists believe that when these cells are appropriately stored with proper cryopreservation, they can be kept for decades, allowing them to be used in future applications and research at any time.

Cryogenic freezers like those from the MVE range offer the lowest nitrogen consumption and some of the industry’s longest hold times. Vapor units are capable of maintaining a consistent temperature of ‐190°C, even at the top of the box. Temperature variation in the freezer is exceptional at 5°C, meaning that units can maintain temperatures for up to 23 days with no liquid nitrogen supply.

It should also be noted that Air Products liquid nitrogen for Life Science is MDD certified to ISO13485 Medical Device Directive, meaning that customers can be confident that their project and samples are in capable hands.

Air Products can assist customers every step of the way, ensuring long-lasting storage solutions as part of any cryogenics project.

About Air Products PLC

Air Products touch the lives of consumers around the globe in positive ways every day. With approximately 16,000 employees and operations in 50 countries, we serve customers across a wide range of industries from food and beverage to medical, energy, and transportation. We supply a unique portfolio of atmospheric and process gases, equipment, and services.

Founded in 1940, Air Products has built a reputation for its innovative culture, operational excellence, and commitment to safety and the environment. Our passionate, talented, and committed employees from a diversity of backgrounds are driven by Air Products’ higher purpose to create innovative solutions that benefit the environment, enhance sustainability and address the challenges facing customers, communities, and the world.


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Last updated: Apr 1, 2021 at 3:17 AM

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