Artificial Womb Could Save Babies and Usher in the Matrix

first_imgStay on target Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferNASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This Weekend In a scene from the Matrix, it’s said that in that dystopic future, humans are no longer born, they are “grown” in fluid-filled sacks resembling an artificial womb. Disturbing as the image may be, we’ve just inched a bit closer to that reality.Scientists have created an artificial womb that successfully sustained sheep fetuses. In utero, the sheep went through all of their regular developments growing wool and even learning to swallow.Sci-fi horror potential aside, this is huge. We could use it to save premature babies or save people the pain of childbirth or help those with fertility issues. Plus it could all but eliminate the massive risks and complications inherent in natural pregnancy. That’s skipping ahead a bit, though.Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon and lead author of the study says, “It’s 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.”For now, the goal is to help premature babies who make up 10% of babies born in the United States and often face grim prognoses. The Biobag could give many of these births a fighting chance. Right now the device connects to the umbilical artery, allowing the machine to “breathe” for the fetus. The rest of the bag is filled an electrolyte solution that’s similar to the amniotic sac in which mammals develop. Together, they supply everything growing babies need.For now, the pregnancy has to start in the mother. Still, given the real challenges premature babies and their parents face, this could be one of the best medical developments in some time. If the Biobag can reliably help infants develop, we may be able to save tens of thousands from suffering and death every year. Flake is confident human trials could start in just three years. After that, we might need to wait a bit longer for our cyberpunk dystopia.last_img

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