Doctors Develop and Successfully Grow Lamb in “Biobag” Artificial External Womb
Ron Perillo / 2 years ago
A new development in medical technology has allowed doctors to grow a premature lamb in an external womb called a “Biobag” and it is even more exciting than previous external womb methods for its simplicity and relatively low cost. The fluid-filled bag allows a premature lamb to live up to four weeks before it is ushered in to the outside world. The sealed system has one tube supplying an artificial amniotic fluid while another drains it out which mimics the environment that a mother normally provides.
While the experiment is still in its early stages of animal testing and is still years away from human trials, the results are nonetheless exciting. When developed, the technology could potentially save the lives of up to 90,000 premature babies in the United States and Europe annually. The prognosis is usually grim with survival range from 10 to 50% and even those who survive often suffer brain damage, lung disease or other serious complications.
The Biobag simulated womb is a potentially safer alternative than current methods which often are unfortunately also the cause of some of the premature babies’ health complications. Mechanical ventilation for example, saves many lives but it also can damage babies’ fragile lungs. What sets the Biobag apart from other mechanical methods as well as other external womb solutions before it is that it cedes control to the process and is not intervention heavy. In the womb, babies are in a unique environment that sustains and maintains itself, so the researchers applied this philosophy in developing the Biobag.