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NEWS
American Museum of Natural History
30 Jul 2013

The U.S. National Park Service has renewed its agreement with the American Museum of Natural History to permanently freeze biological samples collected from threatened and endangered species at the Museum’s Ambrose Monell Collection for Molecular and Microbial Research, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind. The Monell collection now houses about […]

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The U.S. National Park Service has renewed its agreement with the American Museum of Natural History to permanently freeze biological samples collected from threatened and endangered species at the Museum’s Ambrose Monell Collection for Molecular and Microbial Research, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind.

The Monell collection now houses about 93,000 tissue samples, including more than 1,000 tissue samples submitted by the National Park Service (NPS) just in the lastyear. Some of the more noteworthy NPS additions are samples from the Channel Island fox—a once near-extinct species found only on six islands off the coast of southern

California—the bald eagle, and the Karner blue butterfly, which is drastically losing habitat in parts of the Midwest and Northeast. These frozen samples, along with the balance of the Monell collection, are available to researchers around the world for genetic and genomic research.

Under the new five-year agreement, which was signed in July 2014, NPS researchers will continue to collect tissue samples under controlled conditions using kits provided by the Museum. The documented specimens, packed in special equipment, are shipped to the Museum, where they are housed in cryogenic storage—liquid nitrogen-cooled vats at temperatures below -150 degrees Celsius. The partnership between the Museum and NPS began in 2009 and so far has resulted in the preservation of more than 2,000 tissue samples from three national parks.

With the capacity to store 1 million frozen tissue samples, the Monell collection, also known as the Ambrose Monell Cryo Collection (AMCC), is part of the Museum’s larger effort to preserve a comprehensive record of Earth’s biodiversity. Launched in 2001, this specialized collection helped develop important protocols for archiving biological specimens. For example, the facility includes an important measure of safety: in the event of an electrical failure, samples would remain super-chilled for five weeks. Major research institutions regularly reach out to the AMCC to seek advice on best practices in frozen tissue storage and data documentation. In the past year alone, staff from Denmark’s soon-to-open national tissue archive spent a week working in the Monell Collection to observe daily operations.

NEWS
BOSTON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
30 Jul 2015

Boston Children’s Hospital physicians report the first cases of children benefiting from 3D printing of their anatomy before undergoing high-risk brain procedures. The four children had life-threatening cerebrovascular malformations (abnormalities in the brain’s blood vessels) that posed special treatment challenges. Reporting online today in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, the physicians describe the use of […]

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Boston Children’s Hospital physicians report the first cases of children benefiting from 3D printing of their anatomy before undergoing high-risk brain procedures. The four children had life-threatening cerebrovascular malformations (abnormalities in the brain’s blood vessels) that posed special treatment challenges.

Reporting online today in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, the physicians describe the use of 3D printing and synthetic resins to create custom, high-fidelity models of the children’s vessel malformations along with nearby normal blood vessels. In some cases, the surrounding brain anatomy was also printed.

“These children had unique anatomy with deep vessels that were very tricky to operate on,” says Boston Children’s neurosurgeon Edward Smith, MD, senior author of the paper and co-director of the hospital’s Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center. “The 3D-printed models allowed us to rehearse the cases beforehand and reduce operative risk as much as we could.”

The children ranged in age from 2 months to 16 years old. Three of the four children had arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), in which tangles of arteries and veins connect abnormally, and were treated surgically.

“AVMs are high-risk cases and it’s helpful to know the anatomy so we can cut the vessels in the right sequence, as quickly and efficiently as possible,” says Smith. “You can physically hold the 3D models, view them from different angles, practice the operation with real instruments and get tactile feedback.”

The 2-month-old infant had a rare vein of Galen malformation in which arteries connect directly with veins—bypassing the capillaries—and was treated with an interventional radiology technique to seal off the malformed blood vessels from the inside.

“Even for a radiologist who is comfortable working with and extrapolating from images on the computer to the patient, turning over a 3D model in your hand is transformative,” says Darren Orbach, MD, PhD, chief of Interventional and Neurointerventional Radiology at Boston Children’s and co-director of the Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center. “Our brains work in three dimensions, and treatment planning with a printed model takes on an intuitive feel that it cannot otherwise have.”

The life-sized and enlarged 3D models were created in collaboration with the Boston Children’s Hospital Simulator Program (SIMPeds) using brain magnetic resonance (MR) and MR arteriography data from each child. Measurements of the models showed 98 percent agreement with the children’s actual anatomy.

All four children’s malformations were successfully removed or eliminated with no complications. When two of the AVM patients were compared with controls who did not have 3D-printed models—matched for age, size and type of AVM, surgeon and operating room—those with 3D models had their surgical time reduced by 12 percent (30 minutes). (Actual surgical time was 254 and 257 minutes for the cases with 3D models and 285 and 288 minutes for the controls.) Even a 30-minute reduction is significant for children who are especially sensitive to anesthesia.

Smith and Orbach are continuing to use 3D models for their trickier cases. “3D printing has become a regular part of our process,” says Smith. “It’s also a tool that allows us to educate our junior colleagues and trainees in a way that’s safe, without putting a child at risk.”

SIMPeds director Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, was first author on the paper; co-authors were Orbach, Sanjay Prabhu, MBBS, FRCR, and Katie Flynn, BS, ME, all of Boston Children’s Hospital. The study was supported by the Lucas Warner AVM Research Fund and The Kids At Heart Neurosurgery Research Fund.