Artificial womb spells hope for preemies

Fetal lambs grown in artificial womb — are humans next?

Artificial 'Biobag' Womb For Premature Newborns Now Being Tested

"There's no intelligence test for lambs, but we think they're pretty smart lambs", said Flake.

A group of scientists from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia created an artificial womb which enables fetuses to develop normally for about a month.

If doctors could place a preemie inside of an artificial womb where it could spend its remaining weeks fully developing, this could completely change that baby's life. "This, in theory, could allow support of a premature infant for a period of weeks and thereby reduce, dramatically, its mortality and morbidity, and improve outcomes both short- and long-term". The lungs, brain and other organs were monitored during testing and they showed increase development during the time inside the artificial womb.

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but the researchers say their device is meant to be much more natural than the current best care options for extremely preterm babies. And they hope that the system can one day be used to help preterm human babies born as early as 23 to 25 weeks of gestation. They even grew coats of wool, and opened their eyes. "It's hard to describe actually how uniquely awe-inspiring it is to see".

Nevertheless, if all goes well, the researchers hope to test the device on premature humans within three to five years.

"These infants have an urgent need for a bridge between the mother's womb and the outside world", says Alan Flake, senior researcher for the study and a foetal surgeon at the CHOP.

It is the most common cause of infant death and leading cause of long-term disability, according to the National Institutes of Health.

White House fumes after Kremlin releases Trump meeting photos
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the announcement after meeting with Trump in Washington Wednesday, according to Tass. An administration official also said the White House had been misled about the role of the Russian photographer.

Advances in technology have allowed many babies delivered after only 22 to 23 weeks to survive.

"What they've got is a system where the fetus is really existing very much as it would in the mother's womb", Anna David of University College London who was not involved in the study told Science.

In a weird turn of events, scientists have come up with an artificial womb resembling a plastic bag which can help keep premature lambs alive for four weeks outside of their own mothers' wombs and could one day be applied to premature babies.

The baby is able to digest nutrients from the laboratory-made fluid.

The researchers then attached the lambs' umbilical cords to a machine that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen, the process that placenta normally does.

The lamb's heart circulates the blood, without the need for any other pump.

Latest News