Scientists are developing an artificial womb to grow babies without the mothers. They introduced the Biobag which they tested on sheeps.
Experts of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia sealed off a fetal lamb inside a Biobag strewn with tubes of blood and fluid.
According to Allan Flake of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the artificial womb contains the same key parts of a womb. “The Biobag is a clear plastic bag that encloses the fetal lamb and protects it from the outside world, like the uterus would; an electrolyte solution that bathes the lamb similarly to the amniotic fluid in the uterus; and a way for the fetus to circulate its blood and exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen,” describes Flake.
Flake and his team created a pumpless circulatory system. They connected an oxygenator to the fetus’ umbilical cord. The ziplock bag contains artificial amniotic fluid. The fluid flows in and out of the bag to remove waste and shield the infant from infections and supply the lungs with fluid.
The artificial womb was tested on eight fetal lambs which were 105 to 120 days into pregnancy for four weeks. After four weeks, the lambs were switched into regular ventilator. Then, the specimens were developed enough to breathe on their own, they were removed from ventilators. One of the lambs was euthanized so the scientists could study its organs.
Upon examination, the lambs’ health appeared nearly as good as a lamb delivered by cesarean section. Their organs looked as developed as a lamb that grew in a mother.
Flake admitted that it will take more research before the Biobags can be used on humans. Study shows that in the US, prematurity leads the causes of death for newborns. Premature babies require intensive support. The Biobag gives premature infants a more natural, uterus-like environment.
“It’s so interesting, and it’s really innovative,” neonatologist Elizabeth Rogers, co-director for the Intensive Care Nursery Follow-Up Program of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital says. “To be able to continue to develop in an artificial environment can reduce the many problems caused by simply being born too early.”
Source: The Verge