Biopsy frozen in seconds in the operating room

phys.org | 3/6/2019 | Staff
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For rapid freezing of a biopsy sample taken from a patient, the standard procedure uses liquid nitrogen. However, this is not allowed inside the operating room. The consequence is a laborious procedure causing unnecessary delay. Researchers of the University of Twente developed a 'snap freezing' apparatus that cools a vial even faster than in liquid nitrogen, and is safe for use inside the operating room. Another advantage is that the speed of cooling is adjustable. The new device is presented in Nature's Scientific Reports. The Dutch VUmc hospital is already running experiments using the new device.

For personalized cancer treatments, molecular medicine is promising. For many laboratory tests, a tissue sample for biopsy is kept at room temperature from the clinic to the lab. But for protein analysis, proteomics, the tissue has to be frozen instantly. This is also called "snap freezing," and is made possible by immersing a vial containing the tissue in a bath of liquid nitrogen, cooling it down to minus 196 degrees Celsius.

Risks - Patient - Staff - Procedure - Operation

To avoid risks for the patient and medical staff, this procedure cannot be done inside the operation theatre. In practice, a clinician wearing protecting clothing waits directly outside with a liquid nitrogen container. There is still a delay in moving the sample outside, which may influence the lab results. The new snap freezer developed by UT scientist can be connected to the mains and does not present any risk of physical contact or breathing harmful cooling gas or liquid. The freezer does not require special gloves or protective clothing. The apparatus freezes vials even faster than liquid nitrogen, and is...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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