The samples were stored with liquid nitrogen at -190°C at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. They had an estimated value of around 40 million euros.
Bad blow for the Karolinska Istitutet in Stockholm, Sweden, where the research samples collected over decades were destroyed due to a breakdown in one of the freezers during the Christmas holidays. The institute made this known, explaining that the samples were stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -190°C and that, between 22 and 23 December, there was an interruption in the supply of the cryogenic liquid .
The problem affected 16 tanks which, although they could preserve their contents for four days without additional liquid nitrogen, remained without it for five , also resulting in the loss of samples from multiple institutions. “ It happened at perhaps the absolute worst time imaginable in Sweden, just a day before Christmas Eve, ” explained Matti Sällberg, dean of the southern campus of the Karolinska Istitutet. The incident was reported to the police , the university added.
According to estimates by some media, the value of the samples is around 40 million euros . Sällberg, however, indicated that no official estimate has been made at the moment, while confirming that it is most likely in the millions. “ The researchers most affected – added the Dean – are those who research leukemia, who have collected samples from patients for over 30 years” . However, all samples were not intended for patient care, but exclusively for research.
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The university has launched an internal investigation and, although there are no indications of sabotage, the police are investigating what happened. “ There is currently no indication that this is due to external actions , but the police report was compiled to cover all circumstances .”