Researchers flawless an artificial womb that works as well as ewe do

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Dr. Alan Flake a fetal surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who is leading the research to develop a fluid-filled

"We've been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model", said lead study author Alan Flake, who added the animals exhibited normal growth, brain, and lung development.

Flake and his fellow researchers at CHOP are now working with the FDA on preliminary studies to clear the way for the first clinical trial of the device in human babies, NewsWorks.org reports. The team created a fluid-filled transparent container to simulate the maternal womb, as babies float around in amniotic fluid inside their mom's uterus.

The foetal lambs grew in a temperature-controlled, near- sterile environment, breathing amniotic fluid as they normally would do in the womb, their hearts pumping blood through their umbilical cord into a gas exchange machine outside the bag. The device also allows researchers to monitor key vital signs and blood flow, so that doctors can respond quickly if the patient starts to deteriorate.

"I could imagine a time, you know sort of [a] 'Brave New World, ' where we're growing embryos from the beginning to the end outside of our bodies".

This study wasn't created to replace a mother's natural womb, but the invention could one day help keep premature infants off ventilators and out of incubators when they are born.

The results of their study are published in Nature Communications.

The research team at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia call the system the "biobag". Lambs developed inside them for up to 28 days. It's going to take time before the external womb can be used on humans.

Around 30,000 babies are born prematurely in the USA each year and many suffer for the rest of their lives as a result. Critics, on the other hand, said that it raised a lot of ethical issues including the issue whether it would be acceptable to test it on human babies.

"They appear to have normal development in all respects", said Dr Flake as one of the survivors reached a year old.

"Everything is formed at that stage but is very, very immature", Dr. Jonathan Fanaroff, from the NICU at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, who was not involved in the study, told ABC News. And they hope that the system can one day be used to help preterm human babies born as early as 23 to 25 weeks of gestation.

The researchers say the experiment offers great promise for replicating the process with human fetuses, with tests likely to begin within three to five years. It can definitely save severely premature babies to develop into normal ones.

In this photo provided by the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, fetal physiologist Marcus G. Davey of the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, who helped design the artificial womb system. Despite the advanced health care facilities available in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), a large number of these infants suffer from a number of health problems, wherein the parents have to decide between opting for extreme health care measures to keep these infants alive and a less painful care.

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