A particular application-specific challenge we are currently addressing is cryo-fixation of a biopsied tumor tissue. In the current workflow as described by our collaborator Cancer Center of Amsterdam at VUmc, the tissue is acquired in an operation theater and is transported to an adjacent room, where it is snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen. Analysis such as proteonomics or RNA is performed afterwards with the tissue to identify disease causing molecular mechanisms. Although this workflow is acceptable for research purposes, to translate this approach to diagnosis an urgent need was to develop a snap-freezing apparatus that does not use liquid nitrogen or other coolants, so that this process can be performed in the operation theatre itself, without the need for extensive planning of the procedure.

NWO-TTW is funding a project team consisting of 1 PhD (Sahil Jagga), 0.5 PD (Michiel van Limbeek), 0.5 TA (Harry Holland) at UT and 1 AGIO (Hanneke Wijngaarden), 0.5 TA (Henk Dekker) at VUmc within the Cryo-On (Cryogenics meets Oncology) project. 

We realized a cryocooler powered snap-freezing apparatus with a cooling performance as good or even better than liquid nitrogen. CryoOn snapfreezer is recently in the news. 

Further reading

Cooling of a vial in a snapfreezing device without using sacrificial cryogens, Michiel A. J. van Limbeek, Sahil Jagga, Harry Holland, Koen Ledeboer, Marcel ter Brake & Srinivas Vanapalli Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 3510 (2019)