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The Past, Present, and Future of Ultra-Low Temperature Storage



Ultra-low temperature (ULT) storage has evolved from a specialised piece of hardware in the backrooms of laboratories and biorepositories to a daily topic of conversation. These freezers, which traditionally store their contents at temperatures as low as -86°C, have presented a variety of uses throughout the rise of COVID-19 – from storing the tests that enabled us to diagnose the virus accurately, and understanding the spread of the virus, to providing the supply chain infrastructure that continues to support delivery of mRNA vaccines to millions of people.

Prior to the pandemic, ULT was (and still is) a mainstay in the laboratory space for storage of injectable drugs and biological samples for clinical research and testing. Many injectable treatments and vaccines require constant storage at ULT temperatures to maintain their safety and efficacy, as dictated by the local regulatory body. Additionally, at -80°C, degeneration of biological samples slows significantly and can be tested for longer periods of time. Based on these capabilities, the broader benefit of a ULT infrastructure has been clear – extending from long-term storage facilities to transportation hubs, to pharmacies and hospitals at the last mile of distribution. However, there was never a need big enough to fully operationalise on a global scale – until the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Tim Root is Director of Marketing for Stirling Ultracold, subsidiary of BioLife Solutions, Inc. Tim’s career spans several B2B marketing leadership roles over the last 30 years, with nearly 10 of those years in commercial refrigeration and laboratory/life science technology. Working with Stirling Ultracold over the last six years, he has also engaged the ULT storage marketplace as a thought leader, blog writer, and laboratory sustainability advocate. Tim holds a BA in Industrial Communications from Wright State University, US, enjoys freshwater fishing and lives with his wife of 37 years in Milford, Ohio, US.

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