Cryopreservation-How Your Baby’s Cord Blood Is Stored
Most cord blood banking companies state that your baby’s cord blood will be stored in a state of the art cryoprservation center. This is the number one choice of most cord blood storage banks. It is the method that protects and preserves your baby’s stem cells should they ever be needed. Some of you might be wondering what cryopreservation really is. It is the process where cells are preserved by cooling them to low sub-zero temperatures. This temperature is typically 77K or -196 degrees C. At these low temperatures there is no biological activity. In fact, the biochemical reactions that cause cell death are stopped ensuring that the cells are still of good quality when the time comes for them to be used.
There are some risks though during cryoprservation. The solution that is used during cryopreservation can sometimes cause damage to cells. Solutions that have a high salt concentration can be very damaging to stem cells. Other factors that can cause damage to cells are extracellular ice formation or ice forming on the outside of the cell. When tissues are cooled, water will sometime seep out of the cells and ice form in its place. Too much of this ice can cause mechanical damage due to crushing. You also have to think about dehydration. The migration of the water that seeps out of the cells and causes extracellular ice formation is also the cause of cellular dehydration. The cells are losing water, and the stress that is caused on the cell is often damaging. You have to consider ice forming on the inside of cells also. While some tissues can tolerate some extracellular ice, intracellular ice is always fatal to cells.
So how can cord blood banks prevent this when storing your baby’s cord blood? One way to prevent it is through vitrification. This provides the benefits of cryopreservation without any damage due to ice crystals. How vitrification works is with the addition of cryoprotectants. These cryoprotentants act like antifreeze and lower the freezing temperature. In artificial cryopreservation, the solute must penetrate the membrane of the cell in order to achieve increased viscosity and slow down the freezing temperature inside the cells.
Cryopreservation has also been used in preserving embryos for couples who have used IVF or invitro fertilization and it works the same way as it does for storing cord blood. Knowing just how they will keep your baby’s blood will aid you in making the decision that is right for you.