Oncofertility Consortium

A few weeks ago, this blog discussed some of the ins and outs of cryopreservation, or highly specialized freezing of tissues for long-term preservation, in oncofertility. Scientists in this scientific field and members of the Oncofertility Consortium recently attended a meeting on this technology and our own Mary Zelinski has agreed to tell us about it through this blog.

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By Mary Zelinski, PhD-The keynote session on Cryobiology in Assisted Reproductive Technologies at the annual meeting of the Society for Cryobiology held in Corvallis, Oregon, July 24-27, was a big success.  A session of 7 oral presentations by an international cadre of speakers followed, on topics, including:

  • Cryopreservation of individual macaque monkey follicles
  • A role for oocyte aquaporins (proteins that regulate water flow in cells) during vitrification in mice
  • The importance of the warming rate on developmental ability of vitrified mouse embryos
  • Inexpensive methods for long-term embryo storage
  • Thermal and mechanical damage of oocyte intracellular lipid droplets
  • Osmotic properties of sperm membranes during cooling
  • Ultra-rapid vitrification of human oocytes using micro-capillary tubes

Much lively discussion occurred after the various presentations, with major contributions by two distinguished founders of reproductive cryobiology, Drs. Peter Mazur and Stanley Leibo.

Those of us who were not trained as ‘classical’ cryobiologists were welcomed with open arms by members of the Society for Cryobiology.  The members are very diverse in their individual interests which made for some interesting lunch-time discussions.  For example, we were exposed to presentations on the importance of cryobiology for blood banking, plant preservation, freeze-drying of pharmaceuticals and food (those backpacking meals), cryopreservation of many different cell types and tissues, cryosurgery, biorepositories, biophysics, and mathematical modeling of ice formation (the latter two topics we definitely struggled with).

While socializing with the Society’s Secretary and past President, Dr. Andreas Sputtek from Hamburg, Germany, we agreed that a workshop on the principles of cryobiology would be useful for those who use this technique and follow protocols, but don’t really know why, or how to trouble-shoot or optimize their procedures based on sound cyrobiological principles.  He will present this suggestion to the Board of Directors and maybe this will be a feature of future annual meetings.

A lively BBQ at a beautiful park (complete with a soccer game among the young investigators and some ‘old’ ones, too) as well as a banquet at a local winery were opportunities for more friendly conversations.  We will definitely consider attending this meeting again to further expose cryobiologists to oncofertility specialists, and equally as important, oncofertility specialists to cryobiologists.  You never know when fruitful collaborations can develop.  Our own research would not be making advances without the advice from experts on our Cryobiology Advisory Board, who are members of this wonderful Society.

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Over the next few days, we will be providing an overview of the presentations from the 3 keynote speakers at this year's meeting. If you would like more information or to become a member of the Society for Cryobiology, please visit their website.

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