Automation in the cryopreservation of sperm


Written by Anne-Marie McAnelly

Cryopreservation of sperm is a tried and true method for preserving genetic material. We’ve seen the bovine industry “slow freezing” bull sperm in straws for over 55 years. Many other species have followed this trend and seen the benefits of improved flexibility, genetic dissemination, biosecurity, health and fertility that accompany this method of sperm cryopreservation. Humans, rabbits, rodents, horses, fish, camelids, small ruminants, companion species, and the list could go on...

Some choose the process of freezing over liquid nitrogen vapors. This manual process creates a freezing curve that can often be difficult to control or reproduce. There can be a big loss of liquid nitrogen to the environment surrounding the work area. While the investment in equipment may be low, I’ve experienced the struggle of budget planning and determining liquid nitrogen loss when static freezing over vapors. The recurring question becomes, “How do we cut costs and become more efficient?”

While there are options that may improve the process of freezing over vapors, including working inside cryo-containers, Styrofoam boxes or liquid nitrogen working stations such as the IMV Technologies CUV, you still don’t know the rate at which your sample is freezing. I’ve used similar options and while they are mobile and easy to use, I had to “guesstimate” when the samples were fully frozen. I had to cross my fingers and hope my samples had preserved viability upon thawing.

 I find this is still an issue in the field. Automating the freezing addresses this concern. Automation can also free up technician time to focus on more high-level projects and aid the pinpointing of areas for improvement in the process.

Over the last four years I’ve seen IMV Technologies’ Digitcool controlled-rate freezers increase the sample viability and throughput in settings outside of animal reproduction.   I have seen Digitcools in use in cell culture, vaccine development, human medical research and human fertility preservation.  In multiple cases, the freezer was selected over other programmable freezers for its precision and the flexibility of its controlling software.

The freezing process is very complex and plays a very important role in the final quality of the sample. The right tool can take some of the uncertainty and variation out of the process.

Check our IMV Technologies website or speak with your local IMV Technologies representative to find out how Digitcool programmable freezers can fit within your operations.

The views expressed in IMV Technologies’ blog do not necessarily represent the views of the IMV Technologies Group but solely those of the blog post’s author