Scientists have developed an artificial womb that can be used in future to save the lives of extremely premature human babies. It was successfully used to incubate healthy baby lambs for a week.
The research showed that preterm lambs were successfully maintained in a healthy, infection-free condition with significant growth, for a period of one week using ex-vivo uterine environment (EVE) therapy.
The artificial womb is a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta. To mimic a womb, researchers had created a temperature-controlled bag filled with electrolyte solution as a substitute for amniotic fluid that lambs swallow and take into their lungs. They had attached the umbilical cord of preterm lamb to the device that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen. In early-stage animal testing, the lamb appeared to grow normally inside the system.
The artificial wombs can facilitate development of premature babies in a uterus-like environment. Further development, EVE therapy can prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants. It can potentially offer a medical technology that does not currently exist.