The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) achieved in 2017 that a lamb fetus It will be developed inside a transparent bag. For all intents and purposes, it functioned as an artificial womb.. It had an umbilical cord attached to it connected to the unborn animal, through which it breathed and fed. Now, this Tuesday and Wednesday this issue is being discussed in a committee of independent advisors and they are asking whether trials with human fetuses are ethical.
It was the great success of the hospital’s Fetal Research Center. In the revolutionary trial, some of the eight prenatal animals They managed to survive up to four weeks. Alan Flake, director of the project, acknowledged that “most of what we know about human fetal development is thanks to lambs.” “All the physiological research over the last 50 or 60 years has enlightened us about fetal blood circulation and development,” he noted.
A great transformative leap that could give hope to millions of premature babies in the world. Only 50% of those born at week 23 manage to live despite suffering from chronic health problems. In fact, in 2019, 900,000 premature babies died.
An ethical dilemma
But this breakthrough also raises a number of questions. The US Drug Administration(FDA) debates this Tuesday and Wednesday whether trials on human fetuses would be ethical. Mario Viciosa, head of Science at ‘Newtral’, explains that “although it sounds dystopianthe proposed trials want to test whether it is possible to extend the critical threshold of week 23.”
“The ethical dilemma arises in applying this technology in a different way because by stretching the threshold, it also there are risks of complications. What its defenders argue is that at least the babies would be in a controlled and, surely, less painful environment, although deprived of contact with their family, which is also therapeutic,” Viciosa details.
A team of researchers from two hospitals in Barcelona together with the La Caixa Foundation, they are also working on a device similar to the pouch-uterus for premature fetuses. They have managed to make a lamb survive 12 days, but they warn that it is difficult to extrapolate the results to a human fetus since these are much smaller than lambs.
From some medical sectors, there are fears that artificial wombs will replace traditional pregnancy in the future. And fictions like macro baby farm, conceived by the Yemeni filmmaker Hashem Al-Ghaili, could become a reality. Growth capsules in pregnancy centers for a new era of humanity.
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