Refrigeration has revolutionised modern life.
Not only do fridges keep many food products from spoiling, but modern refrigeration methods have also allowed for great changes to the medical industry too. For instance, medical fridges and freezers are now a vital piece of equipment in most laboratories.
Although they look similar to domestic fridges, lab fridges differ in that they’re specially designed and optimised for use in a laboratory to keep biological samples and other specimens stored at very specific temperatures.
Lab Fridge Features
The primary function of a laboratory fridge is to maintain a defined, internal storage temperature (usually between +2oC and +8oC) for the secure storage and protection of temperature-sensitive products such as biological samples, chemicals, drugs, vaccines, and other substances needed for laboratory use.
Any temperature-sensitive products that fluctuate outside the temperature range of +2oC and +8oC (also known as ‘the cold chain’) can become spoiled, which leads to a lot of wasted time and money. Standard domestic or catering fridges are simply not accurate enough to achieve these precise temperatures.
Lab fridges are available in a range of different sizes and specifications, but their purpose remains the same – to ensure lab products are stored at their optimum temperature.
All CoolMed laboratory fridges are fitted with high-quality temperature controllers, which accurately monitor the internal fridge temperature levels, displaying the reading outside on an LED control panel. Our fridges are also lockable, to ensure contents remain safe, and fitted with an alarm that sounds if the temperature rises above or falls below the required range.
Lab fridges can be used to store many different temperature-sensitive items. What different laboratories need to store will depend on their own unique needs.
Vaccines are biological substances that may lose their effectiveness or become potentially dangerous if they become too hot or too cold at any time. As this is the case, most vaccines, such as flu vaccines, must be kept in dedicated medical or laboratory fridges to ensure they remain within the ‘cold chain’.
Some new mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of -70°C to -75°C. This temperature is optimal for long-term storage in laboratories. For these vaccines, specialist ultra-low temperature freezers must be used.
During development and manufacture in laboratories, vaccines will always be kept in dedicated lab fridges or freezers to ensure their immunogenicity remains intact.
Biological Sample Storage
Good storage practices of biological materials is an essential component of any laboratory. Biological samples often degrade over time when stored at room temperature, so many specimens require freezing or refrigeration.
A biological sample refers to any material part of the human body that is known to contain DNA, including human tissue, blood and urine. Sometimes researchers need specific types of biological samples to test in order to advance medicine, sometimes patient samples are tested for specific ailments and diseases.
Either way, scientists will ensure samples are safely stored according to their own unique characteristics. Blood, for example, is an excellent culture medium for bacterial growth, so it will be stored in an approved lab fridge between +2oC and +8oC while it undergoes testing.
Many drugs and medicines also need storing in medical or lab fridges to ensure they don’t become spoiled and ineffective. These medicines include: insulin, antibiotic liquids, ear and eye drops, some chemotherapy medications such as Melphalan and more. (This list is not exhaustive.)
During development in a laboratory, drugs and medicines will go through stringent testing under different ambient conditions to decipher the best storage solution for them.
To find out if a product needs to be stored in the fridge, always check the packaging.
Biochemical Reagent Storage
Laboratories also use other products that may require refrigeration, such as biochemical reagents. Biochemical reagents include molecules like amino acids, vitamins and nucleotides that are essential to life.
Laboratory refrigerator temperatures provide a short-term storage solution for frequently used biological reagents and buffers such as enzymes and antibodies.
If you’d like to speak to a member of our team regarding our range of specialist laboratory fridges, please call 0161 772 5666 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.