Simulating mom's womb in research to help earliest preemies

Simulating mom's womb in research to help earliest preemies

Simulating mom's womb in research to help earliest preemies

Ultimately, the researchers are working toward creating an artificial womb that could sustain premature human babies.

Researchers have designed a womb-like device that could allow premature babies to develop their lungs and organs in the critical few weeks that remain before they face the outside world.

The six lambs tested using the system, which has undergone four iterations in three years, were the equivalent of 23- to 24-week-old human baby.

"We start with a tiny fetus that is pretty inert and spends most of its time sleeping".

Flake said the success of the system, details of which were published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, was due to its mimicking life in the uterus as closely as possible. "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. They say the device could transform care for extremely premature babies - born at between 23 and 26 weeks of gestation - and significantly improve their chances of survival.

Picture a plastic bag full of fluid that's supposed to mimic a womb-like environment. The idea that an embryo could develop into a fetus outside of a real, biological mother is pure science fiction, said Flake.

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"This is really an innovative, promising first step", said Spong, who wasn't involved with the research. It can definitely save severely premature babies to develop into normal ones. There are high hopes that the technology could greatly extend the survival rate of infants born at 23 weeks, which is now close to 15pc.

In light of this progress, experts assert that artificial wombs may be a reality in the next few decades. Experts created amniotic fluid in their lab made it flow in and out of the bag.

"We make gallons of this stuff a day, " said foetal physiologist Marcus Davey. It's now an electrolyte solution; he's working to add other factors to make it more like real amniotic fluid.

The story Researchers flawless an artificial womb that works as well as ewe do first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald. The lamb's own heart pumps the blood through the umbilical cord into a gas exchange machine outside the bag.

This recent study has been praised by other researchers.

The study did not address long-term development. The lungs and brains of the lambs were uninjured and just as developed as those who grew in a regular womb. Flake envisions that 10 years from now, artificial wombs might replace incubators and ventilators for extremely premature infants.

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