Scientists Develop an Artificial Womb to Help Premature Babies Survive

We live in an era where the combination of science and technology is both amazing and scary at the same time. Scientists have successfully created an artificial womb in which they “grew” lambs. Interestingly enough, these lambs have shown no sign of any issues whatsoever. If these experiments continue to go well, human subjects may be next for this artificial womb.

The Idea of an Artificial Womb Is Not Entirely Crazy

When most people think of an artificial womb, they will see all kinds of images flash through their head. On paper, it sounds absolutely ridiculous to not only develop such an artificial womb, but also effectively grow babies inside of it. Whether they are animals, humans, or otherwise, many people will see this scientific development as an absolute abomination. However, there is a lot of merit to this concept as well, to say the least.

The outlook of this artificial womb will put a lot of people on edge, considering it looks like a ziplock back mixed with a few tubes. As unpleasing to the eye as the artificial womb may be, however, scientists have successfully turned it into a working prototype to grow lambs. To be more specific, a total of eight lambs are currently growing inside these artificial wombs. Interestingly enough, none of the animals are showing any “defects” or abnormalities whatsoever.

In fact, scientists believe these lambs are behaving in the same manner as they would in a natural womb. Lungs and brains are growing, the lambs even move around slightly. It is evident the solution works as expected, even though these are still the early stages of conducting successful trials. If the project turns out to be viable after more thorough testing, it is not unlikely the artificial womb will be used to bring premature human babies to full term outside of the mother’s womb.

Do not be mistaken in thinking scientists will create animals or humans in this artificial womb at will, though. Putting an embryo within this womb is totally out of the question, as the solution would not be able to sustain life in that capacity. However, it does appear to be an appealing solution when it comes to giving premature babies of any species a fair chance of survival. Whether or not this principle will work for human infants, remains to be seen.

The scientists have dubbed their project BioBag, and it contains all of the parts one would find within a uterus. The fetus is protected from the outside world, there is an electrolyte solution similar to the amniotic fluid in the uterus, and the fetus can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen just like one would within the mother’s womb. Considering how premature birth is the leading cause of death for newborns around the world, solutions such as the BioBag can go a very long way in improving those statistics.

Scientists have been trying to successfully create an artificial womb for decades and it looks like they are finally making some real progress. Although the trial with lambs is going according to plan, humans may respond very differently to this treatment. The first human trials are expected to start within three to four years from now, assuming everything goes according to plan. An interesting future awaits us, that much is certain.

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