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Cryogenic storage and transportation 

Cell and gene therapies (CGTs) pose many logistical challenges that must be addressed to ensure an effective global supply chain. In particular, cell therapies require precise temperature control throughout the transport and storage process, as well as time-sensitive delivery to ensure they are safe and effective when they arrive with patients.

Explore how ICS’ cryogenic storage capabilities can ensure an efficient supply chain for your cell therapy that can scale as your therapy grows.

  • ICS’ cryogenic storage services
  • Cryogenics explained
  • What is cryogenic transportation? 
  • Why ICS?

ICS’ cryogenic storage services

ICS is the first and only full-service, specialty pharmaceutical 3PL to invest in cryogenic transport systems and storage infrastructure, proven methodologies, and processes that enable therapy innovators to scale their specialty molecule from many to millions, with the confidence that comes from working with a trusted partner.
Comprehensive system design
  • 21 days’ hold time for liquid nitrogen (LN2)
  • Best-in-class Brooks cryogenic automation and manual storage to fit wide range of needs
  • Storage solutions to for various ranges of cryo cassettes and bags 
  • Greater protection

Controlled and documented access
  • System audit trail
  • Limits need for advanced cryogenic training
  • Insulating tower
  • Fast retrieval minimizes temperatures excursion
  • Limits handling SOP errors
Simplified inventory management
  • More ergonomic user experience reduces chance for injury
  • Simplified software interactions 
  • Integrated with ICS ERP system
  • Compact

Cryogenics explained

Cryogenics means producing, storing, or studying materials in extremely cold temperatures. While water transforms from a liquid to a solid at 0°C, cryogenic temperatures range much lower, from -150°C to -273°C. -273°C is the absolute lowest temperature that can be achieved. 

Liquid gasses at or below -150°C can be used to freeze other materials – including drug products. Once a gas begins to liquefy, the environment is considered cryogenic. The most common gasses that are turned into liquids for cryogenics are oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and helium.

Cryogenic temperatures can be achieved in a number of ways: 

  • Heat conduction: A sample is placed in direct contact with a fluid that is already at a cryogenic temperature. Heat from the sample will be conducted to the fluid until both are at the same temperature. 
  • Evaporative cooling: When materials are in a liquid form, they have less energy than in their gaseous form. To cool a sample by this method, operators encourage the process of evaporation by pumping away the atoms as they evaporate to get the material to the correct temperature.
  • Cooling by rapid expansion: A gas can be cooled to a liquid by quickly expanding its volume and thus lowering its temperature.
  • Adiabatic demagnetization: “Paramagnetic salts” are used to absorb heat. These salts are a collection of tiny magnets. When an electromagnet is near, they repel from the magnetic field of the electromagnet, making them align in a lattice pattern. 

What is cryogenic transportation?

Cryogenic temperatures can be used to store and transport products that are otherwise sensitive to degradation at ambient temperatures, including drug products, such as cell and gene therapies. This is known as ‘cryogenic transportation’ or ‘cryo shipping.’

For these drugs, an unbroken temperature cold chain is essential to both patient safety and product success. Temperature-controlled cryo storage and cryogenic shipping are essential for drug product integrity. Transport routes need to be carefully planned to ensure that vital infrastructure, from storage facilities to cryogenic charging facilities, is available whenever the product needs it.

Cryogenic transportation must be capable of safely and securely shipping sensitive drug products at temperatures as low as -190°C. This requires specialist, qualified packaging to protect units against outside temperatures. Liquid nitrogen will also be needed to cool the packaging interior to the required temperature. This liquid nitrogen may need to be regularly charged at charging centers en route.

Pharmaceutical companies requiring cryo shipping need to be confident that their logistics partners can provide this essential support. ICS has the capabilities and experience to deliver the required cryogenic infrastructure. 

Why ICS?

ICS provides innovative cryo transportation and storage services for specialty medications. These include cell and gene therapy products. 

Customers choose us for these key reasons:

Commitment to excellence

We pursue it relentlessly and follow the highest quality standards. We always strive to improve to provide the best service.

Expert account management model

We act as a single point of access to strategic program design, better 3PL, and performance analytics for your supply chain.

Integrated commercialization solutions

Through us, you have access to solutions from across Cencora. They provide support for each step of the product and patient journey.

Partnership-driven approach

We manage client relationships with a partnership philosophy. We provide flexibility and a solutions-focused mindset. These ensure excellence throughout your product’s journey.

Proven, innovative solutions

We start with a consultative approach. We tailor your logistics strategy to your business goals and patients’ needs.

Proven performance

Our logistics expertise and patient-centric culture provide superior supply chain performance.

Start a conversation

Looking for a cryogenic transportation and storage company to meet your needs? Contact us to learn more.
A gloved hand uses forceps to place a vial of liquid into a thermal container surrounded by fog.

Cryogenic storage: FAQs

Cryogenic storage systems are designed to keep drug products at cryogenic temperatures as low as -190℃. They use liquefied gasses to achieve these low temperatures – most commonly liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen needs to be recharged regularly to ensure there is enough of it present to keep the temperature inside the storage system consistently low. Cryogenic storage systems also possess thermal insulation to prevent heat transfer into the interior from the ambient environment.  

Cryogenic storage is designed for the storage and transport of sensitive materials that may destabilize or degrade at temperatures above -120℃. Drug products, such as cell and gene therapies, can degrade in warmer temperatures, becoming ineffective well before their end of life. To ensure they are in an appropriate condition when they reach patients, they must be kept at cryogenic temperatures. 

Cryogenic storage is maintained at a temperature between -120℃ and -180℃. Anything above that is considered frozen storage.