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February 15, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 4)

Safeguarding Biological Specimen Integrity

BioCision's CoolTech Products Designed to Cool or Freeze Samples at Uniform Temperatures

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    The CoolBox 30 System is an ice-free alternative to ice buckets or plastic gel-filled coolers. Five temperature options are available through the use of ice-free cartridges, dry ice, or liquid nitrogen.

    Whether you work in discovery, preclinical, or clinical research, your results are only as meaningful as the quality of the collected samples. Even today, many biological specimens are placed in ice buckets, “a cooling method from the Middle Ages,” says Rolf Ehrhardt, Ph.D., M.D., CEO at BioCision. His company designs, manufactures, and markets modular benchtop tools that cool or freeze biomedical samples at a uniform temperature.

    While working as a scientist at several biotech companies and the NIH, Dr. Ehrhardt was frustrated by the lack of standardization in collecting, handling, and storing samples. He found that the methods for cooling and freezing vary from sample to sample, researcher to researcher, and clinic to clinic. So, three years ago, he started BioCision to improve these common, yet overlooked, sample-handling procedures. Collaborations with biomedical engineers led to the company’s adaptive thermal-conductive alloy technology platform.

    “To improve sample handling in the biomedical field, we apply precision engineering,” says Dr. Ehrhardt.

    BioCision’s first products were made from a novel aluminum alloy that is 300 times more conductive than ice and adapts rapidly to the temperature of any freezing or cooling medium. The CoolRack™ line includes thermal conductive racks that hold tube or plate samples of different sizes to standardize temperature control right at the benchtop.

    CoolRacks are portable, versatile, and can be used with ice, dry ice, liquid nitrogen, water bath, or heat block. Regardless of the well position, each sample is kept at the same temperature. CoolRacks can be moved from ice to water bath simultaneously, and the temperature shift stays constant for all samples.

    Temperature differentials of several degrees occur between samples stored in ice buckets. In CoolRacks, the temperature is very even. “This is important biologically and clinically for temperature labile biomarkers,” says Dr. Ehrhardt. CoolRacks are ideal for medium to large collaborations and multisite clinical trials to insure that all samples are frozen or cooled identically. Users can only insert samples in one way, eliminating variations and errors.

    “Patients samples can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the drug being tested and the cost of recruiting patients.”