Researchers infused ovarian tissues from cats with trehalose, then slowly dried the tissues using a microwave. They stored the dried tissues in a standard refrigerator for about a day, and then revived them by adding water. The rehydrated tissues maintained their structure and basic functions, including DNA transcription (a basic but important cellular process).
Scientists have been storing living biomaterials (eggs, embryos, sperm and gonadal tissues) for decades using cryopreservation, which involves freezing them in liquid nitrogen or special freezers. But it’s an expensive and resource-intensive process. This study is the first to show that dehydrating living ovarian tissues for long-term storage at room temperatures is possible. With this initial proof of concept achieved, the team is shifting their focus toward refining their techniques and improving tissue resilience.
If samples can be dried and stored this way, scientists around the world could more easily preserve reproductive tissues and support wildlife conservation. Their findings could also one day help human patients by providing a less expensive and more convenient method of storing ovarian tissues for procedures like in vitro fertilization.
The Next Chapter in Giant Panda Conservation
Giant panda fans far and wide said a bittersweet goodbye to Bei Bei in November. As part of the cooperative breeding program with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all giant panda cubs born at the Zoo move to China when they turn 4 years old. The majority of giant pandas under human care live in China, and the best genetic matches for Bei Bei to breed with as an adult live at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda’s (CCRCHP) bases.