History of Cryopreservation

Since the 1980s, Servy Massey Fertility Institute and Dr. Eduoard Servy have been pioneers in advancing cryopreservation techniques.

1949 – Ernest John Christopher Polge, was a English biologist who was the first person to solve the mystery of how to preserve living cells and tissues at very low temperatures. He accidentally discovered the cryoprotective properties of glycerol on fowl sperm. Polge reported high pregnancy rates in cattle using sperm that had been frozen for periods in excess of a year. His work had far-reaching consequences for the future of artificial insemination and genetic improvement in livestock.

1953 – Jerome K. Sherman was a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa. His research led him to successfully freezing and thawing human sperm. In 1953, he founded the world’s first sperm bank, and it was from that pioneering bank that the first human birth from cryopreserved sperm was recorded

1964 – The term cryobiology was invented. It can be literally translated as “cryo” = cold, “bios” = life, and “logos” = science. Cryobiology is the science of how biological activity and its architecture is affected at low sub zero temperatures. Temperatures often range from hypothermic to cryogenic temperatures. Hypothermic storage is typically above 0 °C but below normothermic (32 °C to 37 °C) mammalian temperatures. Storage by cryopreservation, on the other hand, will be in the – 80 °C to – 196 °C temperature range. The Society for Cryobiology was founded in 1964 to bring together those from the biological, medical and physical sciences who have a common interest in the effect of low temperatures on biological systems. These scientists call themselves “cryogenicists.”

1983 – Alan Trounson is an Australian biologist who can be credited for successfully achieving a pregnancy after freezing early human embryos one to three days after fertilization.

1986 – Christopher Chen, another Australian biologist, was the first to successfully freeze and thaw human oocytes. A twin pregnancy was achieved after insemination and replacement in utero.

1988 – Yves Menezo is a French biologist who gave his name to the first commercial culture media used in in-vitro fertilization. He also designed a new method of culture that would allow the embryos to successfully grow 5 or 6 days in incubator to reach the blastocyst stage. He introduced blastocyst freezing and thawing which have led to many viable pregnancies.

1988 – Yves Menezo and Edouard Servy M.D. obtained in Augusta Georgia the first viable pregnancies following blastocyst culture with fresh and frozen transfers in the USA.

1993 – Gianpiero Palermo, an Italian biologist, obtained the first embryos after intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection allowing males producing a very small number of sperm to reach paternity.

1995 – Edouard Servy and the biologist Zishu Liu in our Augusta, Georgia lab were the first in the world to successfully transplant a cryopreserved blastocyst following intracytoplasmic sperm injection.