A newly-developed artificial womb could save lives

Judith QuinnApr 27, 2017

They appear more like oversized plastic bags with tubes and fluids rather than the Huxleyan tube babies of science fiction. One of the surviving lambs now lives a healthy life on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Commenting on the findings of the study, lead author of the study and a fetal surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Alan Flake said, "We've been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model".

"The most important period for developmental events is still entirely dependent on mother nature", Flake said.

The average gestation time for humans is 40 weeks. Human versions of this artificial wombs should become available within the next two years, the Philadelphia team declared. There are high hopes that the technology could greatly extend the survival rate of infants born at 23 weeks, which is now close to 15pc.

This accounts for one third of all infant deaths and one half of all cerebral palsy cases.

WATCH: BORN 4 MONTHS EARLY, THIS TINY SURVIVOR BEATS THE ODDS Directed by David Terry Fine and previously told by Radiolab, this short documentary is the story of a strong spirit in a tiny body and impossible decisions influenced by technological capabilities. There is a significant risk of infection and achieving the proper mix of nutrients and hormones to support a human baby will be hard, BBC News reported.

Reports state that the artificial device is made up of a clear plastic bag filled with amniotic fluid.

The artificial environment would be most beneficial for babies born at 23 to 28 weeks, to help "bridge the rough patch when they're really struggling" to when they can thrive on their own, according to Emily Patridge, MD, researcher at CHOP.

This scheme could allow for the prevention of any severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants. Scientists first developed a womb-like bag known as extra-uterine support device and tested its efficacy on preterm lamb. The team also tested three lambs that were 115 to 120 days old. They would open their eyes, had a wooly skin and looked comfortable in their "biobag womb". The lambs showed normal breathing and swallowing, and had normal growth, neurological function and organ maturation.

The story Researchers flawless an artificial womb that works as well as ewe do first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald. Stat also noted that the artificial uteri can easily be contaminated with infections, and the fetal heart is weak and sometimes can't handle artificially having blood pumped into it. He is shown near giant tanks holding a liquid created to simulate amniotic fluid.

-The lamb's heart circulates the blood, without the need for any other pump. However, in the US alone, over 30,000 babies are born each year younger than 26 weeks old. Inside of the womb, they placed a premature lamb fetus.

The study didn't address long-term development. However, the artificial womb prototype can improve the infant's chances of survival.

She points out that, if the system makes it to human investigations, it could put premature babies at risk for stress and pain, without offering substantial chances of success at the start of the testing trials. And while it so far has been working on baby lambs, scientists hope to soon use the machine on humans.

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