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Scientists created artificial wombs that successfully grew lamb foetuses

Mary’s little lamb just got a sci-fi upgrade.

It’s a brave new world we’re living in. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia hit a milestone in the fields of science and healthcare when they managed to sustain the development of a prematurely born lamb in what’s been dubbed the Biobag.

The journal Nature Communications describes the Biobag as “a closed-fluid system that uses a pumpless circuit to continuously circulate electrolyte-rich fluids via the umbilical cord in a polyethylene bag.”

LA Times writer Jessica Roy bluntly calls it “a big sterile Ziploc bag with tubes coming out of it.”

“In the experiments, sheep foetuses were delivered at 100 to 115 days of gestation, which is roughly equivalent to the 22- to 24-week mark for human foetuses. Once delivered, the lambs were submerged in the Biobag and monitored for as long as four weeks,” writes Roy.

“Inside the artificial womb, the lambs did just what they would have been doing in utero: breathing, sleeping, swallowing, moving around and, most importantly, growing. Echocardiograms showed normal heart activity. Brains grew at the appropriate ratio for the animals’ size. The lambs fattened up and grew wool”.

Wow. As you can probably surmise, these efforts are geared towards eventually improving how we take care of prematurely born human babies.

“We’re in the process of interacting with the FDA, so it’s not impossible that we could be doing a clinical trial one to two years from now,” said Dr. Alan Flake, a foetal surgeon and director of the hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

While not directly related, this news just happened to come about the time Jimmy Kimmel’s emotional reveal of his own newborn’s health scare went viral.

The alarming point he made was that if it weren’t for his money and prestige, his child may not have gotten the care needed to survive. Hopefully, the Biobag makes this kind of care more accessible.

Surely something we can all agree on is that these little ones deserve a chance at life, and that we should all come together to make sure neither money or politics gets in the way of that.

For the full story on the Biobag, click here.

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