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Biotechniques. 2005 Jun;38(6):879-80, 882-3.

Controlled-rate freezing of human ES cells.

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Department of Comparative Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7190, USA.


A significant obstacle to using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) arises from extremely poor survival associated with freezing, typically in the range of 1%. This report describes a slow controlled-rate freezing technique commonly used for mammalian embryo cryopreservation. Using a combination of surviving colony number and colony diameter; survival was determined relative to untreated hESCs. Using a dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) cryoprotectant and either a homemade controlled-rate freezing device or a commercial freezing device, survival rates of 20%-80% were obtained. To achieve the highest levels of survival, the critical factors were an ice crystal seed (at -7 degrees to -10 degrees C), a freeze rate between 0.3 degrees and 1.8 degrees C/min, and a rapid thaw rate using room temperature water. Slow controlled-rate cooling allows a rapid, simple, and reproducible means of cryopreserving hESCs.

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