Microwave-Assisted Freeze Substitution of Biological and Biomedical Samples

Freeze substitution fixation (FS) of hydrated samples frozen in vitreous ice provides exceptional preservation of structure for light and electron microscopy, and enables immunological detection of thermo-labile antigens that otherwise are damaged/destroyed by processing at ambient or elevated temperatures. Its use as a research tool or in clinical pathology has, however, been limited by the relatively lengthy periods required for passive diffusion of fixatives and organic solvents into the frozen hydrated material.

The invention utilizes controlled microwave (MW) irradiation to accelerate the FS process; and comprises systems, devices and methods for microwave-assisted processing of samples under cryo-conditions. The entire MWFS procedure has been accomplished in less than 4 hours as compared to the approximately 2-5 days required for FS.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Provides superior preservation and rapid turnaround in research and high throughput clinical laboratory settings
  • Applicable to a broad range of biological samples, hydrogels, and other hydrated materials
  • Processing for light and electron microscopy
  • Low-temperature synthetic and analytical chemistry
  • Reduces processing periods from days to hours
  • Improves preservation, approaching native state
  • Enables uncomplicated, programmable operation
  • Provides excellent reproducibility

Development Stage:
  • Proof of concept with varied biological samples
  • Adaptation of existing equipment with manual processing
  • Proposed designs for instrumentation and automation


Elizabeth Fischer (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Vinod Nair (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

David Dorward (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
PCT Application No. PCT/US2009/055913
US Application No. 13/062,479

Collaboration Opportunity:

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Research Technologies Branch, Electron Microscopy Unit, is interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize potential applications of this invention, including design and development of instrumentation for conducting MWFS. Please contact Barry U. Buchbinder, Ph.D., NIAID/OTD, at 301-594-1696 or bbuchbinder@niaid.nih.gov, for more information.

Licensing Contact:
Barry Buchbinder, Ph.D.
Email: BBuchbinder@niaid.nih.gov
Phone: 301-496-2644

OTT Reference No: E-238-2008-2
Updated: Jul 12, 2010