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A Conversation with Wheaton

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Read time: 4 minutes

Established in 1888, Wheaton proudly boasts a 125 year legacy in the medical and scientific fields. Over this time the company, headquartered in Millville, NJ, has developed strong international brand recognition for providing consistently high levels of products and services. 

We spoke to Wheaton to learn more about the company and the innovative range of products they offer. 

AB: Wheaton has an impressive 125 year legacy. Can you tell me a little about Wheaton and its mission?

Wheaton: For the past 125 years Wheaton has specialized in designing and manufacturing plastic and glass containers with a wide range of closure systems.  Initially the company served a wide array of applications from soft drinks to cough medicine.   More recently we have focused exclusively on for the research, diagnostic packaging and specialty pharmaceutical industries across the globe custom solutions addressing the need for secure storage, transport and delivery of science’s most sensitive materials and precious specimens.  

Internally we continue to work hard to transition from supplying “good quality products” to becoming recognized by our customers as the Solution Provider of choice, through relentless advocacy for them while developing and delivering complete solutions to their daily challenges in life science, diagnostics and scientific packaging.  

We strive every day to create value for our customers by staying true to our legacy while expanding our innovative solution base to meet the customers’ changing needs as we build on our strengths in glass and plastic products, small instruments and services.

To build our position as the Solution Provider of Choice we will focus on the three business principles;

Customer Engagement  – We will be creative and adaptive in the way we go to market and the way we serve customers so that we get the best information on exactly their needs so we can help them select the best solutions for their problems.

Portfolio Optimization – As we actively listen to the voice of our customer, understand their needs and requirements then respond with the appropriate solutions we practice what’s known as Purpose Built design.

Process Efficiency – Our global customers rely on us to be both efficient and responsive increasing value of our offering by improving and aligning processes to better serve our customers.

AB: What are the particular requirements for cryogenic storage of tissues? Can you describe some of the features of the CryoElite Tissue Vials that help to meet these?

Wheaton: CryoELITE Tissue Vials were specifically designed for effective cryopreservation of biological tissue specimens because tissue is different from cells and biofluids and has particular requirements for cryogenic storage. With the WHEATON CryoELITE Tissue Vial‘s wide-mouth opening, 5mL capacity and high integrity closure, it offers researchers who work with tissue samples ease of use, convenience and security to ensure sample integrity. CryoELITE Tissue Vials meet USP Class VI classification and are manufactured from low binding, cryogenic-grade virgin polypropylene. Lot tested and certified to be free of pyrogens, RNase / DNase and endotoxins, the vials are tested for viable storage from -196⁰C to 121⁰C. With an external-thread cap design, the vial seal exceeds DOT and IATA classifications for diagnostic specimens and their transport and is capable of maintaining a secure closure during freeze/thaw procedures. The vials have a flat bottom and a stippled external surface to promote easier handling.

AB: What advantages do CyroElite Tissue Vials have compared to other sample storage options?

Wheaton: Disadvantages of current methods of cryopreservation of biological tissue specimens:

- Not standardized for storage in freezer racks, too large for most storage needs
- Narrow mouth, unsteady, does not fit in standard freezer racks
- Does not hold tissue appropriately, expensive
- Too Small 

CryoELITE Tissue Vials were developed in response to the need to maintain precious specimens in the most pristine form possible.

Issues with Cryopreservation of Tissues
While the biology of cell line cryopreservation has undergone a significant expansion in methods and understanding in the last decades, the cryopreservation of tissue offers unique problems over that observed with cell lines. 

Most notably, there are four major issues with the cryopreservation of tissue, in addition to the problems with individual cell cryopreservation. These include the following: 

1) Rupture of vessels caused by ice formation
2) Fracture of tissue upon freezing or thawing
3) Toxicity of high concentration cryopreservative agent required to achieve vitrification of tissue
4)  Mix of cell types means one cryopreservation process isn’t optimal for all cell types present in the tissue

Thus, tissue/organ cryopreservation is much more complicated than cryopreservation of individual cells. 

Known issues with cryopreservation is alteration of the proteome and/or genome of the cells or tissue. These can include metabolic imbalances (leading to leaky membranes), activation of and leakage of lysosomal and lipoprotein hypdrolases, activation of calcium-dependent phospholipases, release of free fatty acids, activation of the apoptotic cascade, disruption of the cytoskeletal matrix, and generation of free radicals. Unfortunately, these effects lead to induction of necrosis and apoptosis.  

To prevent such damage from occurring in the cryopreservation of tissue, use of proper cryopreservation agents that are able to act as both an intracellular stabilizing agent and an intercellular penetrating cryoprotectant is essential. Furthermore, freezing smaller tissue sections, which allow the penetration of the cryoprotectant throughout the tissue section is advised. Finally, the use of an appropriate, secure vial for storage is essential to prevent tissue degradation, dehydration and exposure to LN2. 

Thus, the take home message is to carefully preserve your tissue for better end use assay results. Furthermore, the realization that the freezing process itself can affect changes in the proteome or genome of the tissue is essential for experimental design.  

Key Points:

1) Understanding the effects of cryopreservation on cell lines and tissues is extremely vital in experimental design.
2) Proper experimental design takes into consideration the non-preventable effects of cryopreservation.

Cap & Thread Design
Customers have a major issue with vials leaking and caps popping off. The CryoELITE Tissue Vial was specifically designed to maintain an excellent seal. 

Wide-mouth Opening
Tissue sections cannot be pipetted, they are manoeuvred with forceps. Forceps cannot fit in standard cryo vials or many of the other solutions. The CryoELITE Tissue Vial was specifically designed to be used with forceps.

Sturdy Base
Customers have their hands full when collecting tissue, they can’t hold a vial upright to place the tissue in the vial. The CryoELITE Tissue Vial offers a sturdy base and won’t tip over. 

Customers need to know which sample is which. The CryoELITE Tissue Vial was specifically designed to take an adhesive label. The curved surface allows adhesion of the label to the vial. In addition, the cap and vial themselves can be written on. 

Customers need to maximize their storage. The CryoELITE Tissue Vial was designed to optimize storage in standard 2” freezer racks. 

AB: Can you tell me more about the range of MicroLiter Vials and applications?

Wheaton: MicroLiter Chromatography Vials are the industry’s most versatile and innovative, designed for high precision, trouble-free operation for both GC and HPLC applications designed to work exceedingly well with autosamplers, and for high throughput chromatography applications. MicroLiter is the Chromatography Vial of choice for those applications where LOD and LOQ is pushed to the max such as DOA confirmation and Vitamin D testing.  They are pre-cleaned and packaged in a certified Class 10,000 clean room to minimize any potential for background noise, making them valuable for limited quantity specimens and unknown targets . MicroLiter vials are complemented by WHEATON’s patented MicroLiter Plate Sampling System (MPSS), which enables automation for high-throughput chromatography with a range of options that facilitate stabilization and security of samples and allows the chromatographer to set the specifications most appropriate for the application, saving valuable time while ensuring accurate results.