New bag that mimics the intrauterine environment

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Out there were eight premature lambs that grew inside a sack that mimics the intrauterine environment. This research from the Philadelphia Pediatric Hospital brings important news in the area of artificial uterus.

Thus, a sack full of fluid, imitating a common uterus, allowed the development of eight premature lambs in this external artificial uterus. This study was released this week in the journal Nature Communications, and is the result of research by a team of scientists at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital in Pennsylvania, USA.

For this investigation, eight lambs born cesarean were used, still in a gestation phase of only 110 days, which is equivalent to the 23/24 weeks of a human fetus. The small lambs were able to live for up to four weeks inside the bag and were subsequently artificially ventilated. Over the course of four weeks, their brains and lungs developed, and the lambs opened their eyes. They began to move, however, having even learned to swallow alone in the sphere of food, which is the focal point for their good development.

Biobag, as it was baptized, consists only of a container made of inert plastic filled with fluid, so that it can imitate the intrauterine environment. This bag, in turn, is composed of a tube that supplies artificial amniotic fluid and a second that drains it. The baby’s heart pumps blood through the umbilical cord to a machine located on the outside of the sac that replaces the placenta, allowing for the effective and continuous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Although some of the lambs have presented some complications, and since the human test is very likely to be years away, scientific experience is, according to a publication in Science Mag, generating much enthusiasm among all those who care for pregnant women and their extremely premature babies. About 90,000 premature babies are born every year in the United States and Europe alone, with the prognosis being complicated, given the survival rate of 10-50%.

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