The underlying science behind the development and use of human pluripotent stem cells has advanced to the point of being able to provide stem cell lines that can reproduce many tissues of the human body. With the potential to not only revolutionize the practice of medicine, but also improve the quality and length of life, stem cell therapies offer tremendous promise for many devastating diseases.
At the inaugural Cell Culture, Stem Cells & Circulating Tumor Cells 2012 conference in San Diego earlier this month, we spoke to a number of scientists on the cutting edge of stem cell research and found that they echoed two common concerns with regard to transporting these highly precious and perishable specimens globally by traditional methods such as dry ice.
Stem cells, like other biological materials, are at risk of temperature excursions during transit when traditional thermal packaging is used, particularly when they’re being shipped internationally and are subject to processing through importation and customs inspections. If for any reason the material gets delayed, be it in customs or as a result of aircraft delays, it will be at risk of degradation, up to total loss of the cell lines, as the required temperatures for preservation are exceeded. Even minor thawing or temperature excursions can have significant consequences, resulting in sample yield loss, or cells losing their viability or their pluripotent properties.
The scientists we spoke to emphasized the importance of cell quality by noting that any degradation in quality due to thawing or temperature excursions can cause stem cells to lose their ability to be pluripotent. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) resource for stem cell research and the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) state that the reason pluripotent stem cells are so valuable is because of their potential to not only generate any type of cell in the body, but also because of their ability to create pluripotent stem cell "lines" —cell cultures that can be grown indefinitely in the laboratory. According to the scientists we spoke to, even a 10 percent loss of pluripotent properties can render a shipment essentially worthless. As a consequence, delays and increased costs within research and development programs, and in patient treatment, can be experienced.
These risks are significantly reduced with our frozen shipping and logistics solution, which uses innovative liquid nitrogen dry vapor shippers to ensure cell line stability by maintaining a constant temperature of -150 degrees Celsius for a 10 day dynamic duration during shipment. This stability and endurance of frozen temperatures is coupled with technology that monitors temperature of the specimen, and tracks both the chain of custody and chain of condition for the shipment. Together with our service team and CryoPortal™, a web-based order entry and global tracking and monitoring system, our clients can request a shipment and then follow its progress as it travels from the point of origin to the destination, plus download temperature conditions within the sample chamber and outside environment at any point in the process.
Having helped our clients prepare their customs documentation, we understand how to best describe the materials and can facilitate status and location monitoring of shipped orders while in transit to provide complete logistics management for all stakeholders involved. As a leader in cold chain logistics for the life sciences, Cryoport recognizes the importance of the new challenges created by the cell line quality concerns and we have made it our business to eliminate sample yield losses and ensure our clients’ precious cargo preserves its integrity throughout the entire shipping process.