Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb

A fetal lamb rests inside an "artificial womb" device.


(Artificial womb for lamb)

So far the device has only been tested on fetal lambs. A study published Tuesday involving eight animals found the device appears effective at enabling very premature fetuses to develop normally for about a month.

"We've been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model," says Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

"They've had normal growth. They've had normal lung maturation. They've had normal brain maturation. They've had normal development in every way that we can measure it," Flake says.

Flake says the group hopes to test the device on very premature human babies within three to five years.

How long have scientists been thinking about this idea? Fans of Aldous Huxley's 1932 classic Brave New World may recall the artificial wombs used to gestate the citizens of the state:

From the Social Predestination Room the escalators went rumbling down into the basement, and there, in the crimson darkness, stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...

Fans of science fiction writer Lois McMaster Bujold may recall the uterine replicator in her 1986 novel Shards of Honor, and fans of Frank Herbert of course recall the procreative stump from his 1972 novel Hellstrom's Hive.

Via NPR.

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