An unbelievable breakthrough is getting attention in the scientific world. Scientists have succeeded in making a womb that can grow baby lambs. It is a Biobag strewn with tubes, which ensure blood circulation. It can sustain the fluid required for the fetus. Watch the video below:
Biobag Success with Lamb Fetuses
So far, scientists have been able to develop eight lambs in the artificial womb. The fetuses grew for four weeks in the Biobag, grew lungs, sprouted wool, and have a healthy brain. They wriggle and show swallowing movements too. This is a big achievement for the scientific world because having an artificial womb was very difficult to achieve. Yes, there are some risks of infections but it is a work in progress.
Are Human Babies Next?
In the near future, it seems likely that the Biobag will serve for bringing premature babies to the world with a better chance to survive. For now, premature babies have slimmer chances of surviving when they arrive in the 28th week rather than a 37th week. They need life support, intensive care, mechanical ventilation, and IVs for survival. Even then, very few survive, and those that do, 20-50% suffer from health problems in later years.
With the artificial womb, premature human fetuses will have a better chance. Doctors can place them in the Biobag until they complete their full term so that they have an almost uterus-like environment to grow well. Addressing this issue, Elizabeth Rogers, the neonatologist put more light on the use of this technology for human babies. She said, “Parents have to make critical decisions about whether to use aggressive measures to keep these babies alive, or whether to allow for less painful, comfort care”.
If testing this new technology proves a success with human fetuses, then parents will have a choice to make. They can have children with a better chance at life by opting for an artificial uterus, or take the risk of premature deliveries and live a struggling life.
The Design of the Biobag
The artificial womb or Biobag is almost like the real womb. It has all the key features, which include an electrolyte solution that has a consistency similar to the amniotic fluid. It makes the baby float immersed in the fluid and receives nourishment through the umbilical cord. The Nature Communications journal has a complete explanation about this by Alan Flake and his team.
Alan Flake, who is the author of this study and fetal surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said, “It is complete science fiction to think that you can take an embryo and get it through the early developmental process and put it on our machine without the mother being the critical element there”. He explained that the design of the Biobag is because its objective is mainly to provide a womb-like environment for fetuses to develop fully and as normally as possible.
For now, the technology is in its initial and testing phase. It will take three to four years before human testing begins.
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