In cryopreservation of tissues, ice is the primary enemy. Ice crystals destroy cell structures, both during freezing, and again during thawing. Ice is the reason why a great deal of effort has gone into the development of cryoprotectant chemicals that enable vitrification, a low-temperature state with minimal ice formation. Vitrification is what makes it possible for the cryonics industry to store patients while doing their best to preserve the fine structure of the brain in which the data of the mind is encoded. There is an enormous difference in damage between a frozen brain and a vitrified brain.
There is still much that can be done to improve cryoprotectants and vitrification of tissues. For example, thawing remains a challenge – reversible vitrification is a near term goal for organ storage, a capability that will revolutionize the logistics of organ transplantation, but has yet to be achieved in more than proof of principle demonstrations. Researchers have made some inroads in the past few years towards the production of better methods of thawing that can minimize ice crystal formation, such as through the use of nanoparticles. The researchers noted here have a different, small molecule approach
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