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The University of Warwick use a Linkam cryo stage to help
the development of new cryoprotectants for biological storage

Market leaders in temperature controlled microscopy, Linkam Scientific Instruments report on the use of their temperature controlled cryobiology stage and how it is being applied to the research into antifreeze proteins with the aim of producing novel cryoprotectants for biological storage. This work is being carried out at the University of Warwick in the research group of Associate Professor Matthew Gibson.

Dr Matthew Gibson is an Associate Professor at the University of Warwick where he leads a diverse research team. His research is focused at the interfaces of Organic and Polymer Chemistries with the Life Sciences. It makes use of modern polymer and organic methods to obtain either wholly synthetic or hybrid polymer/peptide based (nano) materials for various applications especially those focussed on the major healthcare issues of regenerative medicine and infectious disease

One particular area of research is the design and synthesis of antifreeze (glyco)protein (AFP) mimics. AFPs are found in a range of species which can survive in extreme cold temperatures by preventing, or slowing the rate of ice growth, i.e. stopping the same process which makes ice cream taste 'grainy' once it has been in the freezer for a while. This growth of ice is also a major problem in the cryopreservation of donor cells and tissue for transplantation. The best technologies currently available involve adding large amounts of organic solvent to the cells which is obviously not ideal for future transplantation. If the group can improve the storage of cells (or in the future, tissues and organs) it could really improve the scope for regenerative medicine procedures. Unfortunately, AFPs are not always easy to synthesise in large quantities and are not ideally suited to this application. Dr Gibson and his colleagues are seeking to make synthetic polymers, which mimic the function of AFPs, and have had some success at this recently.

Dr Gibson's group uses the Linkam BCS196 cryobiology stage to assist with research into antifreeze proteins, with the aim of producing novel cryoprotectants for biological storage. He describes why he chose the Linkam stage and the results it has helped to produce:

"To measure antifreeze function, we needed to use a stable, temperature controlled cryo-stage for our microscopes, to enable us to measure ice crystal growth. The Linkam BCS196 cryobiology stage gives us good temperature control and the ability to carefully increase or decrease the temperature as needed. In our recent studies we have focussed on identified new 'motifs' (structural features) which have AFP-like function, even though they do not 'look like' AFPs. Whilst there are very good methods for doing this, they are rather slow and we wanted to see if we can start to use more high-throughput or rapid methods to screen for activity quickly. In this paper we use gold nanoparticle aggregation as a marker for AFP-like activity and we were happy to see that for our polymers, it was quite predictive. We will be testing it with a wider range of compounds in the future as a route to identify new AFP mimetic materials which can then be studied in more detail for both activity and cryopreservation."

The work has recently been published in the journal,
Scientific Reports: Mitchell, DE., Congdon, TR., Rodger, A., Gibson, MI. Scientific Reports, 2015, 5, 15716, "Gold Nanoparticle Aggregation as a Probe of Antifreeze (Glyco) Protein-Inspired Ice Recrystallization Inhibition and Identification of New IRI Active Macromolecules"

Linkam Scientific Instruments in profile
Linkam develops and manufactures a broad range of temperature controlled stages from high to cryo temperatures for both OEM and end users. These are used in conjunction with light microscopes and a wide range of analytical techniques including Raman, FTIR, WAX/SAX and other X-ray techniques to visualise and characterise the properties of materials. Linkam stages are found in thousands of laboratories worldwide with the most successful microscope heating stage, the THMS600, selling over 5,000 units alone. Linkam is the market leader in temperature controlled microscopy.

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