The Artificial Womb

The Artificial Womb

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This is the artificial womb facility; a place where humans could be
grown entirely from scratch! The devices you see here
are called Growth Pods. Each growth Pod is designed to
replicate the same conditions that exist inside the mother’s uterus. Growth pods are designed
to host human foetuses until they are fully developed! These artificial wombs are
designed to help premature babies to continue developing after their birth, but emerging research
is making it possible to use them to create designer humans entirely from scratch. Every human fetus requires around 37 weeks inside the mother’s
uterus to fully develop, and then comes birth. But not every baby has
this biological luxury. In fact, every year around 15
million foetuses are born too early. And approximately 1 million of them
die due to birth complications. The minimum number of weeks
in which a developing fetus must stay in the womb is 24 weeks. If the fetus is born before that, the survival rates will go down. Even if the fetus survives, it will likely to experience lung issues and long-term neurological damage. Although baby incubators and they
increase the chances of survival, they have limitations: if the fetus is born before 22 weeks, incubators are not likely to work. The artificial womb is an advanced
version of baby incubators. And it promises to make the problem
of premature births, obsolete! But how does it work? In terms of design,
the artificial womb consists of: The growth chamber, which hosts the fetus. It replicates the same environment
provided by the mother’s uterus. It is the incubation chamber that
provides the optimal temperature and humidity for the growth of the fetus. There is another container
which provides the fetus with a constant stream of blood that is rich of oxygen
until the moment of birth. The artificial womb is
filled with amitotic fluid, which is the liquid that surrounds
the fetus inside the mother’s uterus. This liquid is rich of
the essential nutrients that are needed to sustain the
unborn fetus inside the womb. The growth chamber also
features advanced sensors coupled with Artificial Intelligence. These sensors monitor
the fetus’ vital signs during the development process, which include breathing and heartbeat. The artificial womb also features a screen which displays real-time data on the
development progress of the fetus. Inside this growth pod,
the fetus is kept for 9 months until a full course of
development is reached. The concept of growing babies inside an artificial environment
is called ectogenesis. Ecto meaning outside,
and genesis means formation. It isn’t really new. The history of the artificial
womb dates to the early 1950s The first design of the artificial womb was patented by Emanuel
Greenberg back in 1955. He developed the concept with the
hope of helping premature babies to continue developing after their birth. Back then,
baby incubators already existed, so no one really moved forward to building
the prototype of the artificial womb. In the 1990s, researchers at Tokyo
University’s medical department tested the artificial womb
to see if it actually works. They removed a goat fetus from
its mother by Caesarean section. Then they placed it in a rubber womb
filled with artificial amniotic fluid, and the little guy was
delivered 17 days later. In 2002, scientists built
mini artificial wombs using cells extracted
from the uterus itself. These lab-made wombs allowed embryos
to attach themselves to their walls. Just like the natural process. Even though the embryos
began to grow and develop, they were terminated 5 days
later due to ethical concerns. In 2017, scientists from the
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia managed to use a primitive
design of the artificial womb where they placed a premature lamb fetus. After keeping the lamb fetus for 4
weeks inside the artificial womb, it started growing a wool
coat, gained weight, and even opened its eyes. The researchers went
on to test their design of the artificial womb with more lambs, and their experiments were successful! As of today, the real artificial womb is no more than just a plastic
bag filled with amniotic fluid It doesn’t look like much,
but it serves its purpose: allowing premature foetuses
to continue developing outside the mother’s uterus. Even though the primary
goal of the artificial womb is to sustain premature babies, it could actually be used to
create the perfect human being! By engineering a human being from scratch, we can redesign ourselves
to be more resistant to diseases and to achieve more
intelligence and better looks. And babies who are born in such
way are called designer babies or designer humans. Because they have been
customized and designed by another human being before their birth. To create the perfect
designer baby from scratch you don’t need something
sophisticated actually, all you need is just a skin cell.

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