It is often said that the best inventions are the simplest. That is certainly the case with CryoXtract Instruments, whose CXT350 and CXT750 frozen aliquotting systems have the potential to revolutionise the world of frozen biospecimen storage in medical research.

CryoXtract’s technology solves a longstanding problem for medical researchers: It allows them to access and core pieces of frozen biosamples, which run the risk of degradation once thawed. BioscienceJournal_Editorial Image

Previously, researchers wishing to use part of a frozen sample had to completely thaw it, even if they only needed a small fragment. That meant the remaining sample either needed to be re-frozen, running the risk that it would be compromised when re-used, or discarded. CryoXtract’s devices remove these problems because they extract only what is required without the need to thaw the remainder, rather in the way that researchers use ice-cores taken from the world’s frozen wastes when researching climate change, but on an altogether much smaller scale

Having the ability to use a single frozen sample multiple times will help bolster efforts to collect samples of blood, serum, plasma, tissue and others. Already, demand for biobanks, the centres around the world that store these samples, is accelerating amidst increasing recognition that the analysis of biospecimens could yield enormously beneficial insights into the evolution, causes and treatment of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. CryoXtract’s simple and effective solution offers managers of biobanks and similar establishments a new way to safeguard the integrity of their rapidly growing number of samples.

It will also help to support the fast growth of another area of intense interest: Microbiome/Microbiota research. This field of research endeavours to understand the relationship of our multitudinous microbial inhabitants of our intestines with the development of various diseases ranging from obesity and Type 2 diabetes to inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis.

The technology concept behind the CXT350 and CXT750 was invented by engineers and physicians at Harvard Medical School and Northeastern University in Boston, and is now distributed in the UK by Cambridge Bioscience.

CryoXtract offers two configurations of its automated systems, allowing them to be used in large or small facilities, from a freezer in a hospital research laboratory to a large automated biobank containing tens of thousands, if not millions, of samples.

The CXT750 is a fully automated, programmable robotic system that can process hundreds or thousands of samples at a time. It can reformat them into microtubes or microplates for immediate analysis, or into cryotubes for distribution to researchers in other laboratories or for longer-term frozen storage.

Its smaller cousin, the CXT350, is a slightly more hands-on but versatile instrument, which can be readily deployed to any laboratory around the world.

The systems reduce human error in sample processing, keep samples in a safe and ultra-cold state throughout, and ultimately improve the outcomes of analysis and the quality of the research on these samples.

Since the systems were launched within the last two years, the reliability they offer has been proving invaluable to scientists involved in everything from advanced molecular medicine to biomarker discovery, cancer research to neurodegenerative medicine, and to the study of probiotics and diagnostics in the field of human gut Microbiome research.

CryoXtract’s proprietary technology removes multiple frozen aliquots from a single sample without exposing the parent repeatedly to the freeze/thaw cycles that can degrade critical molecules.

After the frozen cores have been obtained, the parent sample may be returned to storage still frozen for future processing, with researchers secure in the knowledge that its integrity has been protected.

By eliminating the unnecessary exposure of samples to freeze/thaw cycles, CryoXtract’s technology is also able to support critical R&D activities by prolonging the samples’ useful life.

This helps to reduce the need to collect new samples, allowing researchers to streamline their sample aliquotting process and improve lab efficiencies. In particular, fewer freezers and liquid nitrogen storage tanks are needed, minimising the costs.

CryoXtract’s technology is being used in core facilities, sample management facilities, clinical and research laboratories, forensics laboratories and drug discovery and development laboratories around the world. It’s proving particularly useful to operators of biobanks and biorepositories.

With more countries and major companies establishing biobanks, and as the need to effectively manage their huge stocks without compromising samples becomes ever more urgent, the role of CryoXtract in offering an easy-to-use solution is becoming ever more attractive.

For a simple idea, the CryoXtract systems offer an opportunity to have a major impact in the world of frozen biomedical specimen storage.