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A New Reality for Cold Storage

Never before have biological materials played such a critical role in the discovery of novel therapeutics and management of public health. Throughout the 20th century, small molecules were the paragon of medicine. Now, advanced therapeutic medicinal products include antibodies, cells, and tissues. This shift from chemical to biological entities represents a new era in healthcare, and the novel mRNA and viral vector technologies of recent COVID-19 vaccines have revealed its ripple effect throughout the infrastructure that supports the industry. Biological materials have a new set of storage requirements and supply chains that move them from manufacturers to end users must adapt.

A pivotal aspect of biological materials is that they degrade with time, losing structure and function. Freezing, however, counters degradation. A general rule of thumb is the colder the storage, the longer the time gained to use biological materials as research samples, development specimens, or therapeutic agents. Ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers were built precisely for this purpose. Capable of reaching and holding temperatures between -50°C and -80°C, ULT freezers have been used for decades in research. Today, these devices are designed for a long life of efficient and optimal performance in high-traffic environments. Those features put ULT freezers at the centre of changes happening in the cold chain for vaccines and other biopharmaceuticals. The cold chain must become ultra-cold.

What Is a Purpose-Built ULT Freezer?

ULT freezers use variable technologies to drive safe and secure storage at low temperatures. In the past, ULT freezers were considered loud, but today’s instruments run quietly and radiate little heat.

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Dr Alex Esmon, Senior Director, General Manager for Cold Storage at Thermo Fisher Scientific, has been involved in almost every aspect of product management for the company’s laboratory products division. He has a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, US, and is an expert on cold storage strategies and cryopreservation with over 13 years of industry experience.
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