Kryo 360 Controlled Rate FreezerMrs Moaza Al Matrooshi, from Dubai, gave birth in London on 13 December, after surgeons implanted ovarian tissue taken when she was nine years old - before puberty - and this appears to be a world first. Mrs Al Matrooshi was born with an inherited blood disorder and needed chemotherapy before receiving a bone marrow transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. This chemotherapy would render her infertile and as a precautionary measure her right ovary was removed in 2001 in an operation in Leeds and the tissue frozen by Professor Helen Picton and her team.

As with many such ovarian preservations, the tissue was frozen down in a Planer controlled rate freezer before being stored at liquid nitrogen temperatures. It was mixed with cryopreservatives and controlled rate frozen so that the sample stayed viable and undamaged after the liquid nitrogen storage temperatures experienced.

Prof Picton, Scientific Director of the Leeds Centre For Reproductive Medicine, says that the procedure to store the tissue in 2001 was done before any birth from ovarian tissue preservation. The first such birth occurred in Louvain, Belgium under Prof Donnez in 2004 - again using Planer programmable freezers. Prof Picton, who oversaw the tissue-freezing at Leeds University, reported to the BBC, that in Europe alone, several thousand girls and young women have now had ovarian tissue frozen and stored. 

Mrs Al Matrooshi's ovary remained frozen until 2015 when it was sent to Denmark, where the transplant took place. The surgeons there transplanted five slivers of the ovarian tissue back into her body – four were stitched on to a failed left ovary and one on to the side of the uterus. After the transplant hormone levels returned to normal Mrs Al Matrooshi began ovulating and fertility was restored. IVF was undertaken at the Portland hospital to maximise the chance of pregnancy, resulting in the production of three embryos, two of which were implanted. Worldwide more than sixty babies have been born from women who had their fertility restored, but Moaza is the first case from pre-pubertal freezing and the first from a patient who had treatment for beta thalassaemia.

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In the 1950s fowl sperm was first cryopreserved by a UK team led by Christopher Polge; the process was repeated in humans giving successful pregnancies. But the rapid immersion in liquid nitrogen gave viability problems for some samples – at that time embryos and bone marrow. As understanding of the freezing mechanism grew the importance of controlled or slow freezing for post thaw viability developed. In 1963, Peter Mazur, in the U.S., showed that damaging intracellular ice could be avoided if cooling was slow enough to permit sufficient water to leave the cell during freezing. Cryoprotectants, initially glycerol, protected the cells from freezing injury – both direct damage from ice crystal formation and from the increase in concentration of solutes. The controlled cooling process let these biological samples equilibrate osmotically in cryoprotectant via a series of cooling stages before their transfer to liquid nitrogen for long term storage; the first birth from frozen bovine embryo was reported in 1972 - using an early Planer machine.

Working with Prof David Pegg, Planer introduced controlled rate freezing equipment in the 1970s, first for animal embryos, with Professors Rawson and Wilmut pioneering the area, and then after 1984 in human IVF. In that year Drs Alan Trounson and Carl Wood in Melbourne helped Zoe Leyland into the world via a Planer freezer and she became the first human born from a frozen embryo. Two years later, April 1986, the first successful attempt at freezing and thawing of a human oocyte was reported in the Lancet by Dr Christopher Chen et al: a twin pregnancy was achieved using DMSO protectant and freezing in a Planer machine down from -7C to -36C followed by rapid freezing to -196C before storage in liquid nitrogen.  Research into freezing other material continued and in 1991 arterial graft material was frozen successfully for the first time and in 2004 the longest successful storage of sperm was reported by doctors from St. Mary's Hospital and Christie Hospital in Manchester, UK who worked with a couple who conceived using sperm frozen down in a Planer controlled rate freezer, and then stored for twenty one years.

In 1997 a patient, Ms Touirat, in Belgium had parts of her ovaries removed and controlled frozen in a Planer machine before beginning treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma which would necessarily leave her infertile. In 2003, free of the cancer, a Belgian team under Prof Donnez thawed and reimplanted and she became the first woman in the world to give birth to a healthy baby following such a graft.  More lately, in 2014, Prof Bruce Campbell of Nottingham, UK, reported (in ‘Human Reproduction’) he had successfully frozen and transplanted a whole ovary - the first frozen organ from an adult large mammal successfully transplanted.

There are some 10,000 Planer temperature control machines that have been sold around the world since the company started in 1974. Used for freezing precious samples in use for human, animal and cell biology – samples like oocytes, skin, blood products, bone marrow, embryos, sperm, stem cells, tissue they are found in hospitals, veterinary practices and research laboratories everywhere.

Dr. C. Padhiyar, Lab Director at LifeCell, who have taken delivery of their ninth freezer.

LifeCell was established in 2004 and within a short span of twelve years has grown into India’s largest Cord Blood and Stem Cell repository with state-of-the-art laboratory at its headquarters in Chennai and a satellite laboratory in Gurgaon, near Delhi. The company has recently added four more Planer Kryo750-30 controlled rate freezers to their laboratory in Chennai to meet the increasing demand of freezing their sample intake. Life Cell now have nine Planer Freezers - two of the Kryo 560-16 and seven of Kryo 750-30 models. Our long standing Indian distributor, Indus Instruments, helped the customer through the purchase and installation process. The principals of Indus - Mr. P. P. Venkitachalam and Mr. D. Ravi - have between them more than four decades of experience in supporting instrumentation.

The freezers are working twenty four seven freezing the increasing number of cell samples. The Planer CRFs are used to freeze these samples in vials and micro cassettes and use protocols optimised by the user via Planer's versatile Delta T software. LifeCell provides comprehensive Stem Cell Solutions including Menstrual Stem Cell banking - the only banking of its kind in India. The repository has now a stored collection of more than 200,000 units and is steadily marching towards a target of 275,000 in the near future.  

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The Pokrovsky Stem Cell Bank LLC, users of Planer equipment, is co-organising the "International Conference - Stem Cell Bio 2016", in St. Petersburg, Russia on 9th -11th of November. The Pokrovsky Medical Centre is a stem cell bank and clinic in operation for some ten years now and it is a multi-disciplinary clinic with world-class medical services for both outpatient and in-patients. Both the medical centre and stem cell bank are located in St. Petersburg, and it has offices in Tver, Novgorod and Murmansk.

Together with BioVitrum LLC - a Russian biological distributor - Pokrovsky will host "Stem Cell Bio 2016" with the theme "Fundamental Science as the basis of Cell Technologies". The organisers announce that while stem cell research has became the focus area of modern regenerative medicine and the major growth option for it via a lot of promising results of pre clinical and worldwide clinical trials, better future development of regenerative medicine needs multi discipline events between biologists and practicing doctors. Integration is required between the fundamental and applied sciences. This is the main goal of SCB 2016  - to create such a platform for exchange between the various experts in the field of stem cell biology. The scientific program will reflect current investigations in the fundamental functioning mechanisms of stem cells with themes such as:

  • Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of differentiation and reprogramming
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Haematopoietic stem cells
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Resident stem cells
  • Stem cells for modelling pathological processes
  • Cell technologies for clinical application with plenary sessions involving leading scientists from Russia, Norway, Latvia and more.

Poster sessions and abstracts are to be published in the Conference document and there will be break-out discussions on medical, legal and ethical aspects of cell products applications.

The Pokrovsky stem cell bank is the largest bank for personal and public storage of cord blood stem cells in Russia, it also specialises in gene technologies and DNA work. It has thirteen biotech laboratories, equipped to the latest standards for biological engineering; the Pokrovsky team includes 98 highly qualified specialists with 11 patents on inventions concerning cord blood cells, fibroblasts, bone marrow and adipose tissue.

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An article in the latest issue of the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics evaluates two different formulations of slow-freezing solutions for cleavage stage embryo cryopreservation. The authors, Dr L Fang et al, from the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China investigated whether improved survival rates could be achieved using a new formulation of media. The aim was to investigate if survival rates similar to those obtained with vitrification could be obtained in their clinic with this new composition of solutions from Vitrolife AB from Sweden for freezing and thawing of cleavage stage embryos.

The evaluation was in two parts - the first being a retrospective analysis of results obtained after freezing and thawing day 3 embryos from 400 women using an older formulation of cryopreservation solutions. These results were compared with those from 108 women where cryopreservation had been performed using the new composition solution from Vitrolife. In total, 2274 embryos from 897 patients were thawed using the old formulation of solutions while 1273 embryos from 542 patients were frozen and thawed using the new solutions.

With the new media - FreezeKit Cleave™ and ThawKit Cleave™ Vitrolife  - the survival rate increased from 82.1 to 94.4 % and the complete embryo survival rate increased from 54.9 to 81.3 %. The implantation rate, clinical pregnancy rate per embryo transfer, and per cycle were 28.2, 45.2, and 43.7 %, respectively, using the old formulations of cryo solutions. With the new solutions, the results reached 33.7, 54.1, and 54.1 %, respectively - the differences being statistically significant. The new solutions were specially formulated to add new base medium composition, a modification of a G-Series culture medium containing amino acids for support of embryo viability and with the addition of MOPS buffer for physiological pH maintenance plus hyaluronan, which has been shown to increase embryo survival after cryopreservation.

The team, from the Department of Reproductive Endocrinology, Women's Hospital, Hangzhou, use a Planer freezer for slow freezing, in preference to vitrification methods. Traditionally with vitrification, higher survival rates were obtained compared to standard slow-freezing procedures and it was initially introduced as a quick and easy cryopreservation method. But many clinics find vitrification time consuming and prefer to cryopreserve pronuclear-stage and cleavage stage embryos using the conventional slow-freezing method. The authors conclude: “In our clinic, we consider slow freezing more practical but wanted to improve the results, especially the survival rate after thawing of the embryos. With the new formulation of the solutions for freezing and thawing of cleavage stage embryos and the modified protocol, we have found that we can achieve the same high survival rates with the traditional slow-freezing method as with vitrification. We can continue using our freezing machine and can spend time on other things in the lab while the machine is running".

You can read the abstract at

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Researchers use our freezers for preserving dental pulp, but Dr Qutieshat, a dental researcher, used one of our profile machines from twenty years ago for measuring hardness in his research on an Artificial Mouth - looking at tooth enamel erosion. Dr Abubaker Qutieshat, of the University of Dundee, recently published this research on designing and validating a "Realistic Artificial Mouth Model for Dental Erosion Research" undertaken in Dec 2015.  The clever system he built sought to mimic the interaction of saliva and dental substrate during the process of consuming erosive beverages. His model allows researchers to gather data using customizable experimental diets. This allows samples preloaded on the system to be tested for surface characteristics (i.e. surface hardness and surface profilometry) to determine the extent of any erosion. 

To validate the capabilities of his artificial mouth system a set of diets was repeated. His is the first study to report human drinking behaviour values for carbonated beverages in a social environment. In addition, 'Saltus' (his model) is the first in vitro model that simulates natural human drinking behaviour in terms of a test beverage flow rate and quantity with temperature and consumption time. 

A food or drink that has a pH of 7 is considered neutral, but many foods and beverages are in fact acidic. The acid content in convenience food and drinks is important for flavour, taste and shelf life. 

Dental tissue loss has been quantified using several techniques but one of the most reliable techniques is profilometry which measures the amount of loss relative to a non-affected reference area . In this case the Specimen surface loss was quantitatively measured using a Planer SF220 Surface Profiler, made by us some twenty years ago!  The diamond stylus in the machine was moved in a straight line across the specimen surface using reference and guidance lines that were marked on acrylic resin surface. And ... the artificial mouth 'Saltus' has won the European Federation of Conservative Dentistry Merit Award.

Link: .

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) will be holding their annual Scientific Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah on the 15th-19th October. Over 5,000 experts, from the around the world, will be gathering to consider the latest thinking in human reproduction.

This year’s programme is intended to provide a balance between the assessment of the most up-to-date molecular and genetic techniques as well as the opportunity to reflect on the influence of reproduction on public heath worldwide.

Alongside the Congress, there will be the ASRM exhibition where some of the latest innovations in reproductive technology will be shown. Planer are delighted to be exhibiting at ASRM once again. This year, we will be showcasing our latest PetriSense™ sensor which allows accurate CO2 and pH monitoring in a variety of laboratory equipment, including benchtop incubators, environmental chambers and large incubators.

If you are going to ASRM this year, please do drop by Stand 906 – we would be delighted to see you.




The Bioartificial Liver Group at UCL and Royal Free Hospital in London, are using the Planer 750 controlled rate freezer to develop their robust manufacturing and delivery options. The UCL Bioartificial Liver comprises large volumes, around 2 litres, of functionalised alginate encapsulated liver cells. Cryopreservation at large scale will be a critical step in the delivery of the viable cell therapy on demand, when liver failure patients would need support from the Bioartificial Liver - which can happen at any time.

Currently, the Bioartificial Liver team is investigating the best ways to optimise control of cooling profiles in large volumes (sterile units in 1 litre packages or larger) where heat transfer, and removal of latent heat of ice crystallisation have traditionally been problems in the past.

The pictures show researchers Joana, who qualified in Lisbon, working on the effects of freezing the alginate beads that encapsulate the cells and Kevin examining one of the related cryofiles. Work on cryopreservation of the liver mass is being supported by the Liver Group Charity and the Wellcome Trust

Further information
Details about the UCL Bioartificial Liver work can be found at
Details about the 750 Freezer can be found at:
Details for Donations to the Liver Group Charity at:

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