What’s in the Image You Receive

The image attached to your viability report is a magnified picture of your unique anagen hair follicle! Anagen hair follicles are in the growth phase of the hair growth cycle where cells continuously divide. Visually, a follicle in the anagen phase has a bulb, an intact outer and inner root sheath, as well as a glossy bulge area, as shown in the diagram above. This bulge area hosts a reserve of stem cells which hold immense regenerative and therapeutic potential. The stem cells from this region have already been used to create bone, fat, cartilage and neuronal cells in the lab!

At Acorn, we carefully sort through all plucked follicles and select only your anagen follicles to be cryopreserved. This ensures that we store the follicles with the most abundant and diverse cell populations.

The most common cell population isolated from the hair follicle are keratinocytes, which are highly specialized cells of the epidermis. Cultured keratinocytes have been used for more than 20 years to treat burns and other skin conditions. These same keratinocytes can also be reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells, which can differentiate into any cell type in the human body!

What Are Our Viability Requirements?

Number of Follicles

The number of your anagen follicles with intact outer root sheaths that have been cryopreserved.

Hair follicle with and without intact root sheath
Above are examples of good and bad follicles. The good follicle has a solid, intact root sheath. The bad follicle has a broken, inconsistent root sheath.

We recommend having between 25 and 55 collected intact follicles. Up to 5 of these follicles are used for analysis, leaving you with 20-50 banked follicles for future use.

Number of Live Cells

Each hair follicle has between 2000-5000 cells. Your follicle also has a percentage of living and dead cells.

The number of live cells in your report is an estimate of the total number of living cells that you have banked. This estimate is based on the average total living cell count of the cells we analyzed.

Our strict protocols ensure that we don’t store any follicles with less living cells than our experimentally determined cut-off point. We base this point on the number of living cells needed for successful outgrowth. Our outgrowth techniques allow us to outgrow each follicle's live cells into millions of other cells for use in treatments.

Number of Redundant Storage Tanks

Your cells stored in multiple vials in at least 2 different cryogenic storage tanks. This provides extra protection in the rare event of a cryogenic tank malfunction.

Our cryopreservation tanks are located in secure facilities in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) and Torrance (California, USA). Both facilities are separate power grids with multiple backup generators to ensure that loss of power is an improbable event. Loss of power to the cryogenic freezers where your cells are stored is very unlikely.

Finally, because your cells are held in tanks containing liquid nitrogen, the temperature would remain constant for long enough for your cells to be transferred to a working tank upon power loss.

Cryogenic Storage Temperature

Samples are cryogenically [-180℃ to -196℃] stored in what’s known as vapour-phase liquid nitrogen (LN²). This temperature stops the biological clock of your sample, so they remain the age at which you froze them. Samples are frozen at a slow rate of 1℃ per minute. The slow rate and added cryoprotectants, special substances added to the freezing solution, minimize damage to the cells during the freezing. Once cells have acclimated to low temperatures, they are transferred to our storage tanks that allow samples to maintain a constant cryogenic temperature of down to -196℃.