Summary

An international consortium coordinated by Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (FhG-IBMT) has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop one of the most modern global HIV cryobanks, as part of a new international effort to accelerate the development of an HIV vaccine.

Fraunhofer IBMT has established a state-of-the-art specimen repository where samples obtained from tests of vaccine candidates can be stored in controlled low-temperature conditions, for long-term preservation and for sharing among collaborating laboratories. The facility also conducts research to develop novel techniques for preserving research samples.

Cryotechnology is established in the majority of bio laboratories and a basis for many medical workflows. Therefore, there is at least one cryotank in almost every bio laboratory around the world. Nevertheless, today’s procedures are not well suited to handle the expected number of samples, which increase depending on the respective study, up to several thousands or even millions, as well as the growing requirements in technology the future will bring about.
Besides handling a large number of samples at lowest temperatures, the freezing issue and above all the reduction of the likelihood of sample mismatch are the most important objectives of future cryobanking.
Therefore, the FhG-IBMT in cooperation with the companies PermaCryo Technology, Soventec and ASKION have developed completely new concepts and innovative technological hard- and software components which they combined into products that meet the requirements of future cryotechnology.

FhG-IBMT offers solutions from small (regional) cryobanks, as used in research institutions, via medium sized cryobanks as installed in hospitals, up to large-scale fully automated cryobanks as necessary for storage of national resources.
The intended key features are:

  • Future-proofness and biosafety
  • Optimal cryobiophysical characteristics
  • Techniques for 100% safety of mismatch
  • Suitability for automation
  • No interruption of the individual cooling chains at any time
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WHO-UNAIDS Guidelines

At the annual meeting of the GHRC consortium in December 2011 it was proposed that the new edition of the Guidelines should be a collaborative effort between WHO and the GHRC consortium. To ensure that the Guidelines include all aspects of HIV vaccine research, an advisory group of experts representing different fields met in a 3-day meeting at the premises of the FhG-IBMT in Sulzbach on 18-20 June 2012.