A solution for the cryopreservation of human internal organs could be at hand in the form of a technology used to preserve sushi that can instantly freeze water, meaning there is no time for cell damaging ice crystals to form. In fact, it’s already being used to preserve teeth.
A research group at Hiroshima University, borrowing super-cooling technology used to preserve sushi and high-end food delicacies, has proven it is possible to freeze cells without the use of toxic cryprotectants. As reported on Singularity Hub, the “Cells Alive System” (CAS) produced by Japanese company ABI prevents freezing at super-cool temperatures by vibrating the water using magnetic fields. This allows the water to be super-cooled so that when the magnetic field is turned off, the water freezes instantaneously – too fast for damaging ice crystals to form.
The patented CAS technology is already being used at the world’s first commercial tooth bank, The Teeth Bank, to preserve teeth and potentially as an alternative source for harvesting stem cells. The Teeth Bank allows removed teeth, previously disposed of as worthless medical waste, to be stored and re-implanted when needed. Preserved teeth can even be sculpted into different teeth before re-implantation.
The CAS technology has even been proven to reserve the tooth ligaments – an important factor for re-implantation. A 2010 study published in the journal Cryobiology detailed how the ligaments of a fresh tooth slow frozen without the CAS technology were severely damaged, while the ligaments of another tooth frozen using the CAS technology survived showing only minor damage and grew as well as those from a fresh tooth.
The technology could obviously have potential for the preservation of internal organs that currently have only a brief window of viability after being removed from a donor. Thanks to burgeoning technology, it could also provide a way for people to store replacement organs grown from their own stem cells instead of waiting on a compatible donor.