Special Announcement: 21CM in the News
21st Century Medicine, Inc. Wins the Brain Preservation Prize for Large Mammals

It was announced by the Brain Preservation Foundation on March 13th, 2018, that 21st Century Medicine (21CM) has won the Large Mammal Brain Preservation Prize. The prize, which has a purse value of $80,000, was awarded on the basis of the company’s ability to almost perfectly preserve the ultrastructure of a whole pig brain after cooling to and rewarming from a temperature ( 130 degrees Celsius) that was below the glass transition temperature of the vitrified brain.

The demonstration was based on a new technique called “aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation,” or ASC, in which the brain was first fixed with glutaraldehyde and then perfused with 65% ethylene glycol using a linear gradient similar to what is normally applied for whole organ vitrification experiments on kidneys. The technique also relies on the use of a common laboratory detergent, sodium dodecylsulfate, or SDS, to open up the blood-brain barrier and allow the cryoprotectant to enter the brain without causing brain shrinkage.

ASC was used in this case because a primary objective of the prize was to demonstrate preservation of brain ultrastructure sufficient to establish that the “connectome,” or totality of all brain cell to brain cell synaptic connections, can be preserved for at least 100 years. Fixation is known to preserve ultrastructure very well, but is not necessarily adequate for very long periods of time. By combining fixation with vitrification, time limitations are removed, thus enabling us to win the prize.

The ASC technique was published in Cryobiology in 2015 (see our list of publications here), but independent evaluation by the Brain Preservation Foundation required two years before a final conclusion could be drawn about the comprehensiveness of preservation in the pig brain that was submitted. 21CM was previously awarded the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize by the Brain Preservation Foundation in 2016 based on evaluation of a rabbit brain preserved using the same technique.

ASC is not a technique for viable brain preservation, but is a tool that can be used by neurobiologists who need to be able to store rare or valuable material for indefinite periods of time. ASC has a significant advantage over embedded brain samples in that rewarming enables brain perfusion with a variety of markers that can trace the anatomical location of many different substances of interest. It is compatible with many other neurobiological techniques and allows a brain preserved in one location to be shared with specialists in other locations, and to be used for more than one type of assay. But the main attraction is that ASC enables preservation and examination of the entire brain, not just a part of it, with stability comparable to embedding but with accessibility of all brain areas that is impossible to achieve with conventional methods that require embedding.

ASC was developed at 21CM by Robert McIntyre, a graduate from MIT, and Dr. Gregory M. Fahy, the company’s Chief Scientific Officer, working with a larger team that included surgeons, microscopists, and special advisors. As the lead investigator on the project, Mr. McIntyre refined many key aspects of the fixation and staining methods as well as methods of opening the blood brain barrier and rapidly processing samples to enable the work to proceed quickly.

Mr. McIntyre is now employed by a new startup that was founded to pursue refinements and other versions of ASC, including whole brain embedding, and to seek new applications for the technique.

Although ASC has been discussed in the popular press and even by the Brain Preservation Foundation as a new type of cryonics, in which “revival” might be accomplished by creating a computer simulation of that brain based on the scanning of immense numbers of brain sections to create a comprehensive map of the structure of that person’s brain, 21CM does not endorse these views. Others have suggested that ASC preserved brains might be revived by means of biological repairs carried out with future tools from the field of medical nanotechnology, but we do not endorse this view either. 21CM sought the prize to demonstrate the power of its vitrification technology to reach beyond conventional applications of cryobiology and provide unexpected new tools to mainstream neurobiologists. While 21CM firmly believes in personal choice and respects the views of all honest people, we are not a cryonics company and as such do not specifically endorse any form of cryonics.

It’s A Matter Of Time

21st Century Medicine has developed an entire platform technology focused on the creation and commercialization of hypothermic preservation and cryopreservation techniques that enable protection, preservation, transportation, storage & future use of valuable living systems.
These developments have taken science far beyond conventional preservation limits. 21CM scientists continue to prove long-term protection and preservation of complex living systems is not only possible, but commercially viable.

So, what does all this mean?

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It means that a vital link has been created that we call “Bio Logistics”.

Biopharmaceutical companies get a larger window in which to test new drug candidates on viable premade and cryopreserved tissue slices that function like fresh.

In assisted reproductive medicine, fertilization by safer, less expensive and intensive methods is possible because damage to fragile cells is minimized or totally eliminated.

Companies providing products containing living biological systems now have an effective partner to fulfill their inventory and supply chain needs.

And soon, organ banks can actually start banking organs.

21CM serves as an enabling link in the protection and preservation of living systems. In fact, 21CM’s custom preservation protocols, solutions, and devices support clients across a diverse range of natural and bio-artificial applications including everything from the natural survival of Alaskan beetles to long-term storage of human corneas, and from revival of Hawaiian coral to transportation of bio-artificial constructs.

From reliable and responsive contract research to innovative process solutions, 21st Century Medicine can help resolve most time-sensitive “Bio Logistic” problems currently faced by researchers and producers of living system products.

21CM performs research testing and produces lab-scale cryopreservation solutions for research and educational purposes only. No current 21CM test or product is used for or meant for diagnosis or treatment of any human medical condition or disease. 21CM does not provide products for human use or give/offer medical advice, or medical diagnosis for any medical condition(s) and/or symptom(s).

21CM continues to work on applications in the following areas: