Researchers successfully developed an artificial womb, used to incubate healthy baby lambs for a period of one week. Researchers hope that the technology may help premature babies.
However, the researchers sought to develop an effective treatment strategy for extremely preterm infants born at the border of viability (22-23 weeks).
By using ex-vivo uterine environment (EVE) therapy, the preterm lambs successfully maintained in a healthy, infection-free condition with significant growth. EVE therapy could prevent the disease population extremely suffered by premature infants by potentially offering a medical technology that does not currently exist.
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Designing treatment strategies for preterm infants is a challenge. At this gestational age, the lungs often too structurally and functionally under-developed for the baby to breathe easily. The research team improving outcomes for this group to treat them as a fetus rather than a small infant.
Chief Investigator in Australia, Associate Professor Matt Kemp, said, our equipment essentially a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta.
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However, providing an alternative for the fetus, we hoped to spare the extremely preterm cardiopulmonary system from ventilation-derived injury save the lives of babies whose lungs too immature to breathe properly. The aim of the research is to develop lungs and other organs for preterm babies before brought into the world.
EVE therapy, and the use of sheep as a model of human pregnancy. And, the newborn is a long-standing research interest of this group. A life based support system around EVE therapy may provide an avenue to improve outcomes for extremely preterm infants.
More information: [AJOG]