From sushi to transplants: The revolution of Mr. Freeze

From sushi to transplants: The revolution of Mr. Freeze

Submitted by Editor on Sat, 2016-03-12 10:51 Bengaluru: A technology first invented to freeze fish for sushi is fast solving the complex problem of organ storage without causing much cellular damage. Its founder Norio Owada, a Japanese also known as “Mr. Freeze,” is actively pursuing these medical advances thanks to the magic of supercooling using magnets. In typical cryo-storage, fast freezing of organs requires poisonous levels of anti-freeze, and as science goes it does poison the transplanted part into their body. But slower freezing causes cell popping ice crystals to form and the organ is rendered useless. So, what do you do to prevent ice crystals during slow freezing? Use magnets. And the inspiration to this complex problem came to Mr. Owada from his childhood stories about Wooly Mammoth of North Pole that he heard from his father, who is also an expert freezer mechanic himself. He had heard from father that in difficult times people of North Pole would dig out frozen meat of these giants which remained as fresh as today in spite of being frozen for thousands of years. Mr. Owada always wondered if it had to do with the earth’s strong magnetic field at the poles. A strong believer in Monozukauri, a Japanese manufacturing principle, Mr. Owada founded ABI, the Japanese company producing the freezer system using the “Cells Alive System” (CAS), which vibrates water with magnetic fields, preventing freezing, even at supercool temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius. When the field is turned off, the water in the food instantly freezes. No time for ice growth means no Freddy Krueger action on frozen organs. (The technology is already patented by ABI). He first innovated this technology to freeze sushi at restaurants in Japan where freshness of the raw fish for sushi is of prime importance. After successful and constant improvement in this technology by Owada, it has now become a life changer. From food chain to food preservation to restaurants and to organ banks CAS technology is fast gaining importance. A research group at Hiroshima University proved it was possible to safely freeze whole teeth and their delicate attaching tissues by borrowing tech used to preserve high-end food delicacies. And it is presumed that tissues frozen using CAS can stay like this for more than 40 years without much cell loss. The transition of this tech from food to longevity science is slowly evolving, but the steps forward are real. You can, right now, pay to store your teeth. Hiroshima University tested the cooling technology for teeth, and uses ABI CAS freezer tech at The Teeth Bank the world's first commercial tooth bank. Dr Toshitsugu Kawata, a Hiroshima University professor, who has done extensive research at the Teeth Bank, helped prove that CAS is a viable technology to preserve teeth. Spare teeth used to be worthless medical waste. Now, removed wisdom teeth aren't garbage, they can be frozen and re-implanted at any point during your life. (The Teeth Bank's re-implant success rate is 87�Thanks to scientific advances, surgeons can even alter your old teeth by sculpting them to the right form. A very complex part of tooth preservation is keeping tooth ligaments alive, or even some of the ligament cells. Implanting ligaments is important. We have ligaments attached to teeth because the force of chewing could grind our chompers out of our jaws. When the research team tried slow freezing a whole fresh tooth without the CAS magnetic fields, the ligaments didn't survive and were severely damaged. However, a CAS magnetically vibrated tooth's ligaments survived. CAS frozen ligament cells grew as well as those from a fresh tooth, and showed only minor damage. There's a hodgepodge of reports out there about what's being done. According to various sources, Mr. Freeze is collaborating with 40 researchers to translate their work with teeth and sushi to hearts, nerves, and other organs. Transplant medicine could benefit tremendously. With further research, this technology could supercool, or even freeze internal organs, putting an end to the dangerously brief time frame for organ transplants. Research towards using ABI's CAS freezers to store ovaries during cancer treatment, allowing women to keep their fertility is also being carried out elsewhere at the research facility. On the ABI compay webpage, photos of a rat heart transplant and undamaged cell walls of frozen wasabi are a reminder of the unusual coupling of frozen food and medicine. Looking into the future, imagine you have heart failure ten years from now. Rather than a frightening race against time to find a donor organ from a cadaver, a spare heart is thawed from a well stocked frozen organ bank. Hell, you've got a CAS freezer full of replacement parts grown from your own cells. Humans are learning how to grow replacement organs through bio-scaffolds. Combining organ printing and organ freezing may lead to growing and freezing our own spare parts, well beyond the extra teeth and perfectly preserved wasabi. Conventional freezing (1) Water molecules in the material before freezing. (2) Ice crystals near the surface expand before the whole item freezes, destroying the cell membrane as well as the nutrient and aroma elements inside the cell. (3) Once defrosted, the phenomenon called "drip" occurs, meaning that the water, nutrient and aroma elements seep out of the cell. CAS and other instant freezing (1) Water molecules in the material before freezing. (2) The materials all freeze instantaneously. (3) After defrosting, the molecules return to their original state, and the material retains its freshness.