Pre-term sheep spent four weeks in external, artificial wombs, that only Ziploc and Stanley Kubrick could be proud of. Are humans next?
The near future is heralded by the symbolic gesture of sacrificial lambs to the God of Science & Technology.
The Verge reports:
Inside what look like oversized ziplock bags strewn with tubes of blood and fluid, eight fetal lambs continued to develop — much like they would have inside their mothers. Over four weeks, their lungs and brains grew, they sprouted wool, opened their eyes, wriggled around, and learned to swallow, according to a new study that takes the first step toward an artificial womb. One day, this device could help to bring premature human babies to term outside the uterus — but right now, it has only been tested on sheep.
It’s appealing to imagine a world where artificial wombs grow babies, eliminating the health risk of pregnancy. But it’s important not to get ahead of the data, says Alan Flake, fetal surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of today’s study.
Rather than flaunt an act of God, Flake’s announcement is surprisingly muted:
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.
Instead, he says the point of these “Biobags” was to give pre-term i.e., “preemie” lambs and chance to develop in a womb-like environment a little longer.'
Read more: 'Don’t Call Me Mother,' Artificial Womb Grew Baby Sheep, Humans Next