In 2017, particularly impressive images ofLamb fetuses growing in what appeared to be an artificial womb. had raised many questions, controversies and mixed hopes. The researchers reported having managed to keep very young lambs alive for almost a month in what they called artificial wombs. In this case it was a sterile plastic bag, filled with amniotic fluid. Through the umbilical cord, medicines, nutrients and oxygen passed to the lamb to keep it alive. The team then observed satisfactory growth, lung, brain and digestive development.
Believing that this technology is “robust and stable“said Dr. Alan Flake, director of the Fetal Research Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, that it is now possible to consider human clinical trials to test this type of artificial uterus.
Hope to increase survival of very premature babies
On its website, the Food and Drug Administration indicates that it has placed the issue of the use of artificial wombs on its agenda. US regulators met to discuss authorizing human clinical trials on this topic, proof that this will not be possible More science fiction soon.
The idea is not to end “classic” intrauterine pregnancies in women, but ratherimprove the care and survival of very premature babies. In the hope that this technology will alleviate prematurity and its harmful consequences for the development of the child.
However, important milestones must be reached before launching clinical trials with very premature babies, because the goal is to ensure that the device is 100% viable, 100% safe. Because if preclinical trials have given good results in lambs, others, in pigs, have given more nuanced or even much less encouraging results. One of the biggest difficulties is blood circulation through the umbilical cord.
The use of artificial wombs also increases important regulatory and ethical issues, which will have to be decided before launching the experiments. Questions arise in particular about the concept of viability (where should the boundary be between a viable fetus and a non-viable fetus?) and about The approach to adopt towards young parents.in relation to the probabilities of success or failure of this approach.