The first fully synthetic polymer-based approach for red-blood-cell cryopreservation without the need for any (toxic) organic solvents is reported. Highly hydroxylated block copolymer worms are shown to be a suitable replacement for hydroxyethyl starch as a extracellular matrix for red blood cells. When used alone, the worms are not a particularly effective preservative. However, when combined with poly(vinyl alcohol), a known ice-recrystallization inhibitor, a remarkable additive cryopreservative effect is observed that matches the performance of hydroxyethyl starch. Moreover, these block copolymer worms enable post-thaw gelation by simply warming to 20°C. This approach offers a new solution for both the storage and transport of red blood cells and also a convenient matrix for subsequent 3D cell cultures.
Mitchell, D. E., Lovett, J. R., Armes, S. P., & Gibson, M. I. (2016). Combining Biomimetic Block Copolymer Worms with an Ice-Inhibiting Polymer for the Solvent-Free Cryopreservation of Red Blood Cells. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, 55(8), 2801–2804. https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201511454