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Cryobiology and its Applications in Healthcare Industry
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The study of effect of low temperature on the living things is kwon as cryobiology. The term is used from Greek language. Biology means study of life or living thing and cryo means cold. Practically speaking the cryobiology study the systems under low temperature conditions like below normal temperature (16-20 °C). The systems which are studied may be cells, tissues, organs or even the biological systems like digestive, neurological etc. under low temperature. The range of temperature varies from hypothermic to extreme cold condition like cryogenic temperature condition.

The adaptation of microorganisms, plants, animals including invertebrates and vertebrates as well as animal’s hibernation are studied and research is being done to know the methods of their adaptation to such extreme conditions. With the research, new biomolecules are being identified which are helping organisms to survive in extreme cool environment. The preservation of cells, tissues, gametes, and other embryos of animals and human being are done to use them as and when required. Many microorganism like useful strains of pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial field which are capable of producing high quantity as well as high quality products are being lyophilized and stored at extreme cold condition like minus one eighty degree Celsius .As per the schedules of production batches, these preserved bacterial strains are removed and used for production. The process of preservation of cells or microorganism reduces the metabolism almost up to zero level such that the entire cell goes into dormant phase with no metabolism and can thus survive for years. Many other cryoprotectants are also put along with during preservation so as to protect the cells during extreme cold condition as well as at the time of thawing.

Lyophilization i.e freeze drying is commonly done in pharmaceutical industries. In this process, complete drying of cell is done under vacuum and -40°C condition then aseptically the lyophils are sealed with the help of blue flame produced from optimized LPG and Oxygen concentration. This sealing which is done in aseptic condition helps to avoid unwanted contamination and thus maintain the purity of preserved products, cells or microbes. Many a times organs which are very critical and delicate are required in emergency for patients. These are preserved in extreme cold conditions to save the patient’s life with transplantation of organs. One of the very famous methods in surgery using cold condition is being followed worldwide. This is known as cryosurgery. In this process, a very little invasion is done and destruction of unwanted or abnormal tissue is done using cryogenic fluids and gases like liquid nitrogen.

Today many organisms are found in extreme cold conditions and that too without any significant problem of survival. These properties are due to some specific biochemical mechanism within the body. This is done with the accumulation of anti nucleating proteins, glucose, polyols and other cryoprotectants which helps organisms to keep them alive even in extreme cold conditions or without any frost damage to their cells or tissues due to sharp crystals of ice. Many bacteria like Pseudomonas syringae , Carnobacterium pleistocenium , Chryseobacterium greenlandensis etc., are surviving for thousands of years in frozen ice of Antarctica and reproduce once the favorable conditions are provided. These are because of their capability to produce ice nucleators and specific proteins. This type of freezing can damage epithelia of plants or habitats were they survive and make necessary minute nutrients available for themselves. The fungus gnat Exechia nugatoria is capable of survival at -50°C with the help of unique mechanism in which the crystals of ice are formed in the body only and not at the head which is more sensitive to cold conditions.

The main challenge of cryobiology is the preservation of cells without any damage to the properties and characteristics of product under preservation. The storage at hypothermic condition has a thumb rule that is after every 10°C reduction in temperature, 50 % decrease in oxygen consumption takes place. Therefore the tissues or organs which are preserved needs special molecules which will take care of acidosis and increased calcium level of the cell. For this type of preservation, today many solutions like HTK, Viaspan and Celsior are widely used with success. These solutions also help to reduce the damage due to free radicals. Thus preservation of vital cells, organs is the best way to keep life healthy incase emergency situations and in the development of healthcare fields.
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Since the year 1663 when a scientist named Henry Power reported the survival of vinegar eels that were frozen by exposure to a keen frost, cryobiologists have been engaged in probing the low temperature limits of life. The area of cryobiology is very vast and encloses everything ranging from the freezing of cells to hypothermia in humans. Even though the objective of cryosurgery is to kill the cells rather than to preserve; it is considered a branch of cryobiology.

Cryosurgery has been utilized in the treatment of to skin lesions for around 100 years. The first cryogens that were utilized include liquid air and compressed carbon dioxide snow. Liquid nitrogen is the currently and most widely used cryogen that became available since the 1940s. Cryosurgery is a minimally invasive method that is utilized for the destruction of unhealthy tissue.

Cryosurgery also called as cryotherapy uses the extreme cold temperature generated by liquid nitrogen or argon gas to destroy abnormal tissue in the body. It is utilized in the treatment of external tumors, such as those that are present on the skin. In case of external tumors, liquid nitrogen is applied to the cancer cells directly with the aid of a cotton swab or with a spraying device.

Cryosurgery is also utilized in the treatment of tumors inside the body that is internal tumors and bone tumors. In case of internal tumors, argon gas or liquid nitrogen is circulated all the way through a hollow instrument known as a cryoprobe, which is positioned so that it is in contact with the tumor. The specialist uses MRI or ultrasound to guide the cryoprobe and monitor the freezing of the cells, thus restricting the damage to close by healthy tissue. Around the probe, a ball of ice crystals is formed that freezes the nearby cells. The probe is positioned into the tumor during surgery or through the skin by percutaneous means. Following cryosurgery, the frozen tissue thaws and is either naturally absorbed by the body as in case with internal tumors, or it dissolves and forms a scab as in case with external tumors.

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