An Artificial Womb Just Successfully Grew Baby Sheep

Eight fetal lambs have been grown inside what appears to be an oversized ziplock bag at a laboratory at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

The lead author of the study, Alan Flake, is a fetal surgeon there, and says people shouldn't freak out about the new technology. 

"It's complete science fiction to think that you can take an embryo and get it through the early developmental process and put it on our machine without the mother being the critical element there," he told The Verge

The development of an external womb (which the team has dubbed the Biobag), was designed to give infants who were born too early a better, more natural and uterus-like environment to develop in according to the study's author.

The Biobag may not look like any womb you're familiar with, but it contains the same part needed that would help a fetus finish developing. 

The clear plastic bag encloses the fetal lamb and protects it from the outside world - much like its mother's uterus would. An electrolyte solution similar to amniotic fluid surrounds the fetal lamb, and gives the fetus a way to circulate its blood and oxygen.

The Biobag could allow infants who are extremely premature (those born before the 37th week of pregnancy) to have better options for care. Premature infants have high-mortality rates, and this Biobag could help them develop longer, giving them a better chance of survival.

An infant cannot be grown from an embryo, a mother is still necessary for the initial stages of development. However, the new artificial womb that can create a more natural environment for fetuses is crucial to extending lifespans of premature infants. 

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