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New Artificial Womb May Help Save Premature Babies

Scientists have developed anartificial womb that has been successfully used to incubatehealthy baby lambs for a week, an advance that may one day beable to save the lives of extremely premature human babies.

New Artificial Womb May Help Save Premature Babies

Scientists have developed anartificial womb successfully used to incubatehealthy baby

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Scientists have developed an artificial womb successfully
  2. EVE therapy could prevent severe morbidity suffered by premature infants
  3. Providing an alternative means of gas exchange for the foetus
Scientists have developed an artificial womb that has been successfully used to incubate healthy baby lambs for a week, an advance that may one day be able to save the lives of extremely premature human babies. Researchers from the University of Western Australia and Tohoku University Hospital in Japan sought to develop an effective treatment strategy for extremely preterm infants born at the border of viability (22-23 weeks). The research, published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 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.


With further development, EVE therapy could prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants by potentially offering a medical technology that does not currently exist, said Matt Kemp, associate professor at the University of Western Australia.
"Designing treatment strategies for extremely preterm infants is a challenge," Kemp said.


"At this gestational age the lungs are often too structurally and functionally under-developed for the baby to breathe easily," he said.


Researchers hypothesised that one means of improving outcomes for this group would be to treat them as a foetus rather than a small infant." Our equipment is essentially is a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta. Put those together, and with careful maintenance what you've got is an artificial womb," Kemp said.


"By providing an alternative means of gas exchange for the foetus, we hoped to spare the extremely preterm cardiopulmonary system from ventilation-derived injury, and save the lives of those babies whose lungs are too immature to breathe properly," he said.


"The end goal is to provide preterm babies the chance to better develop their lungs and other important organs before being brought into the world," he added. 


With inputs from PTI.

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