Scientists Have Developed a Plastic Bag 'Womb' That Keeps Fetal Lambs Alive

Scientists Have Developed a Plastic Bag 'Womb' That Keeps Fetal Lambs Alive

After leaving the lambs in their plastic wombs for around a month, the scientists were pleased to discover that they experienced normal development and even grew a woolly coat.

The researchers created a fluid-filled transparent container to simulate how fetuses float in amniotic fluid inside mom's uterus, and attached it to a mechanical placenta that keeps blood oxygenated. However, according to ABC News, researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia revealed a new device that could save the lives of these premature infants. The team's efforts were successful, with the lambs showing normal circulation, blood pressure, metabolic processing, growth, lung development and brain development after four weeks inside the artificial womb. "Over four weeks we see that fetus open its eyes, grow wool, breathe, swim", said Dr. Emily Partridge, a CHOP research fellow and first author of the study published in Nature Communications.

In the future, this device could potentially help extremely premature babies continue to develop after they're born.

Dr. Alan Flake, director of the Center for Fetal Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, admits that more animal experiments are necessary before the tech can be used in human trials.

Israeli doctors give CPR to a premature baby born at the Israeli army hospital. The idea is that such artificial wombs could one day soon be used to save human fetuses that would not otherwise survive premature births.

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Despite the success of the animal testing, researchers believe that human testing is still three to five years ahead. The environment of each artificial womb allowed all of the lamb fetuses to survive and thrive.

The third component is the mimicking of the amniotic fluid and creating a fluid environment, the physician said. The lungs, brain and other organs were monitored during testing and they showed increase development during the time inside the artificial womb.

But all "preemie" babies (as they're known), are at risk of health problems during their life.

Colin Duncan, a professor of reproductive medicine and science at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the research, told VICE News that the study was a "really attractive concept and this study is a very important step forward".

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