In the post below, guest contributor 300K presents its vision to change the paradigm of biological sample storage from cold to room temperature.
According to the US National Cancer Institute, personalized medicine is a form of medicine that uses information about a person’s own genes or proteins to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease. For example, personalized medicine uses specific information about a person’s tumor to help make a diagnosis, plan treatment, find out how well treatment is working, or make a prognosis. For this purpose millions of biological samples from individuals – both healthy donors and patients – such as urine, blood, tissue, cells, DNA, RNA, and proteins are stored in biobanks, assuring high quality samples and a constant supply.
Storing Biological Samples Cold
Freezing biospecimens at cold temperatures (-20ºC, -80ºC to −190°C) is the current gold standard approach for the storage of biological samples. This storage process has drawbacks that include significant energy consumption, and is putting significant pressure over biorepositories and biobanks worldwide due to a decrease in public funding. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can employ now to make your lab refrigerators and freezers more sustainable for years to come such as those promoted through the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge. This challenge motivates participants on the use of cold storage in a more rational manner, optimizing existing resources and better maintaining “old fashioned” freezers to overcome some of the drawbacks. Employing sustainable practices outlined by the Freezer Challenge present many opportunities to save energy.
Thinking Outside of the Box
There are moments in life when you have to critically consider how you operate and see if there are alternatives to the established standards. One of those moments is now – when we find ourselves in a unique moment of transformation in the world. On September 2015, 193 countries committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and its fulfillment by the year 2030. There are essentially two SDGs that are closely related to biorepositories and biobanks:
Is there another way to safely store this large amount of knowledge and research output concentrated in biological samples in a high quality way that will allow us to improve our health? Fortunately, there are other alternatives to the use of freezing that allow biological samples to be safely stored, but there are limitations of applicability so their use is not widespread and generalized yet.
The Goal of Unplugging Your Lab
In Salamanca, Spain emerges 300K, a start-up company confident that the solution for biobanks and biorepositories for research labs is in completely removing freezers and storing samples at room temperature, changing the paradigm in the field. This will reduce the recurrent costs of energy and maintenance, will significantly improve the biobanking storage space, will simplify shipping of the samples, will reduce the impact on the environment and, most importantly, eliminate the main pain of biobankers that is the risk of losing their sample collections due to energy shortages and freezer failures.
The solution proposed by 300K employs freeze drying like technology as a sample stabilization method, one of the most well-tested alternative technologies to the frozen preservation of products, which allows for the materials to be kept at room temperature while maintaining their properties for long periods of time by isolating the materials of their content in water and oxygen. This method has been widely explored in the food and pharmaceutical industry but has not been a real alternative for the storage of biological specimens in biomedical applications.
300K technology, and room temperature sample storage in general, has the potential to be a game changer in biobanking and allows for a complete replacement of freezers in biobanks since it could be used to store any sample type that is currently stored under freezing conditions. However, for this to be possible, it needs to be available for the final user as an optimized and standardized process, reliable, reproducible, and easily implemented in their routine.
300K is working to have your biological samples stored at room temperature, reducing the need for cold storage devices and the infrastructure around them to maximize you laboratory space and make your laboratory more sustainable.
During the next 15 months, 300K will make this dream into a reality. If you want to know more about this project, contact 300k at firstname.lastname@example.org.