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Shipping of cryopreseved cell - (Mar/05/2009 )

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bob1 on Mar 9 2009, 05:04 PM said:

Contact a courier company and get them to tell you the IATA regulations for shipping. Basically, shipping in LN2 is not done by anyone as it is too dangerous from an explosion and/or suffocation point of view. Remember, handling of liquid nitrogen should only be done in an area with a larger volume than will be released by the volume you are handling (conversion is 1 litre of liquid will expand to 646 litres of gas) - would you want that on a plane?

As stated before, dry ice is fine for cells. After all you can store your cells at -80 deg C for quite some time before seeing a major loss of viability, and dry ice is at -78 ish

I have shipped cells to/from the UK to NZ (total flight time 30+ hours, not counting time in airports) on dry ice and they were fine for the 3-4 days transit. Make sure you get the courier company (I recommend World Couriers) to sort out the packaging so that you comply with IATA regulations, and to ensure that it is kept on dry ice and topped up in transit. Also make sure that they can pre-approve any import documents etc, so as to speed up time spent in customs.

Actually you can ship on LN2. There are special shipping containers called dry shippers that have a lining that can be filled with LN2. The lining is porous, like pumice, and holds the liquid so that the cells or tissue is actually in the vapor phase. The size shipper I use holds minus 196degC for 3 weeks. Shippers like FedEx don't handle them often so you need to work closely with them. If your cells are really precious and you don't want to take a risk on clearing customs these shippers can be a great help. They are pricy though so unless you are routinely shipping cells this way people go the dry ice route and use World Courier or other, cheaper, freight forwarders.

Don't know how LN2 could pose an explosion hazard but definitely asphyxiation is a possibility.

-Astarte Biologics-

Astarte Biologics on Jul 15 2009, 01:30 PM said:

Don't know how LN2 could pose an explosion hazard but definitely asphyxiation is a possibility.

If the container gets accidentally sealed up, or ices up the vent(s) it will explode.


bachai on Apr 15 2009, 03:38 PM said:

kahsiong on Mar 10 2009, 03:04 AM said:

pito on Mar 8 2009, 02:51 AM said:

kahsiong on Mar 5 2009, 09:35 AM said:

I need to ship a lot of cryopreseved cell oversea. Any suggestion on how to ship the cells. This cell currently is store in liquide nitrogen. Is it a mus to ship it with liquid nitrogen? I afraid it will be dangerous to ship with liquid nitrogen.

Have you concidered freezedrying them?

I didn't have any freeze dring machine here.

Freeze-drying = Lyophilization = removal of water from samples in the icy state under vacuum. Cells must be well dead after lyophilization.

I agree, Freeze-drying in definately not the way to go here, your cells will surely die. Companies (lonza / promocell) which ship cell cultures use dry ice, so just copy them! However a common mistake some people make is putting the cells into a -80 freezer when they recieve it, but before thawing. I made this mistake as well :lol: , and learned that it caused irreversible damage to the cells - so go ahead and thaw the cell right away upon arrival, or put them in the liquid nitrogen. The cells will be very happy ;)


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The IATA regulations on this are very specific as to what is allowed, or not. You can ship on dry ice or N2, but both require special handling and declarations. All the big shipping companies (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.) have a hazardous cargo group that specialize in advising customers. There are also speciality shippers, like World Courier, that ship biological materials for a living.

Pick up the phone and have a chat; you will save a lot of time! The IATA itself (located in Montreal) has some wonderfully helpful people at the hazardous goods desk.


See for a LN2-vapor dry shipper for shipping your cells safely using LN2.
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