EMBRC SCIENTISTS PATENT A METHODOLOGY FOR THE CRYOPRESERVATION OF SEA URCHIN EMBRYOS | EMBRC

EMBRC SCIENTISTS PATENT A METHODOLOGY FOR THE CRYOPRESERVATION OF SEA URCHIN EMBRYOS

2016.09.19

EMBRC SCIENTISTS PATENT A METHODOLOGY FOR THE CRYOPRESERVATION OF SEA URCHIN EMBRYOS

Researchers from ECIMAT-University of Vigo (Spanish node of EMBRC) have recently patented the first cryopreservation protocol for early sea urchin embryos with proven long-term viability and applications in water quality assessment and aquaculture. This technology was developed by Dr. Estefanía Paredes with the supervission of Dr. Ricardo Beiras from the University of Vigo and Juan Bellas, from the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO).

 

Nowadays the cryopreservation of cells and tissues has become a highly appreciated tool for research, medicine and veterinary practice. Unfortunately, the application of this methodology to the marine environment is limited and there are few successful protocols described for the cryopreservation of cells and tissues from marine organisms. The lack of protocols for the cryopreservation for key cell types as sperm or oocytes and early embryos limits the development of marine biological research and there is a clear need to develop methods for the cryopreservation of more species and cell types. The Ecotoxicology Team from Toralla Marine Science Station (ECIMAT) from the University of Vigo, which along with Plentzia Marine Station (PIE-UPV/EHU) integrate the Spanish node of EMBRC, started working in the field of cryobiology in 2009, specifically in the cryopreservation of embryos and larvae of marine organisms as part of Estefania Paredes ‘doctoral thesis. That line of work has produced a national (ES) patent that recognizes the only cryopreservation protocol for early sea urchin embryos with proven long-term viability and applications in water quality assessment and aquaculture. This technology and its applications were developed in the lab of Dr. Ricardo Beiras at the University of Vigo and under the supervision of Juan Bellas, from the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO).

A cryopreservation protocol specifically designed for sea urchins 
The cryopreservation protocol for sea urchin embryos (Paracentrotus lividus) consists of preserving and storing the cells in liquid nitrogen to be used out of the reproductive season of the species. The patent has been awarded to Dr. Ricardo Beiras, Dr. Juan Bellas and Dr. Estefania Paredes. Dr. Paredes who is currently working in United States explained that the patent was developed fully at ECIMAT during her PhD studies,which received an award by the Spanish Royal Academy of Doctors for its high quality. The novelty of the patent is that “we have developed a successful cryopreservation protocol for early sea urchin embryos for the first time” explains Dr. Paredes, adding that they have also developed applications in ecotoxicology and aquaculture. At the moment, Dr. Paredes is finishing a postdoctoral stay with the Fundamental and Applied Cryobiology Team at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she moved to work with Dr. Peter Mazur, one of the founding fathers of cryobiology to learn about the most basic aspects of cryopreservation of model organisms. After the death of Dr. Mazur in late 2015, the Galician researcher has been in charge of his lab and the National Institute of Health (NIH) project they were working on.

State Funding for the Functional Preservation Service
During Dr. Paredes´ work, ECIMAT identified Cryopreservation as an área of strategic interest, and as a consequence has pushed forward a line of R&D with the creation of the Functional Preservation Service, integrated in ECMAT´s Marine Biological Resources Unit. Cryopreservation is a tool with interdisciplinary and transversal applications and a huge potential to facilitate and enhance the study of marine biological systems. Antonio Villanueva (ECIMAT´s Manager) emphasizes, “The availability of marine biological resources is one of the main R&D limitations nowadays due to the difficulties in the recollection and long term culture of organisms in the lab, but also due to the seasonal reproduction or low availability of the resources in the natural environment”. Cryopreservation provides an alternative to the storage of good quality biological resources with lower costs and lower demand of space. In order to progress with this service, ECIMAT has just obtained funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness for infrastructures and scientific equipment. This funding will allow the acquisition of state of the art equipment for cryopreservation and storage that will allow ECIMAT and EMBRC to provide innovative and high quality preservation service, including vitrification with utra-rapid laser warming which has shown some very promising results providing extremely high survival rates post-cryopreservation. The new equipment would turn ECIMAT and EMBRC in one of the very few infrastructures in the world using this technology and the first one to use it with marine organisms.

Fingers Crossed for CRYOMAR
At the end of 2016 Dr. Estefania Paredes will return to Vigo (Spain) and continue working in the development of ECIMAT´s Functional Preservation Service and with great hopes on the funding of EMBRC´s CRYOMAR Joint Research Activity, led by ECIMAT and focused on the joint development, along with other 8 EMBRC partners, of cryopreservation techniques and protocols for different groups of marine organisms.

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