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Artificial womb

  1. Sep 30, 2015 #1
    So I'm here mostly for the poll, but [Mod note: Conspiracy site link removed] is the article. I've been interested in combining this with immortality really, but since it's not a established science I'll just go with artificial womb for now.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2015 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    The site that you linked to is a conspiracy theory site, it is not a credible resource. What it is refering to in this case is extrauterine incubation of fetal goats, something that was first attempted back in the 80s, a search on pubmed brings up a few other recent examples (it's interesting to note that the more modern experiments reported shorter success rates than the former). It's important to note that these aren't artificial wombs in the science fiction sense, the aim of this research is to allow for easier study of fetal development and, as a long term goal, help develop incubators that could help premature pregnancies by incubating the fetus outside of the womb. A womb is still needed to develop the fetus up to a point, and as those papers show the technology is very under developed with fetuses currently only survive a matter of days.

    I'll allow your thread to stay open to either discuss the technical aspects of this research or the medical ethics of its potential use in humans but please keep the discussion to real science, not speculative fiction.
     
  4. Sep 30, 2015 #3
    Interesting to see that newer incubation system is actually not as potent older ones, is my poll not allowed?
     
  5. Sep 30, 2015 #4

    Ryan_m_b

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    If you read through the links you might find an answer to why the older ones were reported as having better times, though looking at the references of the second paper I'm in error: this research dates back to the 60s, not the 80s. As for why the discrepancy as far as I can tell (and I've not read the papers thoroughly, just done a quick read) it's not covered but it may be due to the more modern paper trying a different system to explore its advantages, or it could be the level of prematurity. Incidentally a second pubmed search turned up a paper from early this year that is reporting survival times of one week.

    The poll was removed as it is not relevant to the technical discussion.
     
  6. Oct 2, 2015 #5
    I think they are pushing the age of the embryo to an earlier state like you mentioned, level of prematurity. It doesn't seem like a hot topic though, maybe our medical advancement haven't reached that stage?
     
  7. Oct 2, 2015 #6

    Ryan_m_b

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    No it hasn't. Developmental biology is a huge area of research, I've not dipped into it since my undergraduate thesis but it doesn't surprise me that we're still in the dark over exactly what processes need to happen during fetal development (and how to engineer them artificially). There's also a question of need, there's a finite amount of funding in the world for a much larger number of proposed projects. Funding bodies assign funding on the basis of which projects would better advance that bodies goal (be it cancer research, Alzheimer's etc) and those bodies get greater private/public donations on the basis of how much people care about the condition.

    This technology would help very premature births. Pushed a hell of a lot further it might allow a form of artificial surrogacy for those who can't get pregnant. Worthy goals sure, but are they close to priorities?
     
  8. Oct 2, 2015 #7
    Once it works for the goat it should pretty much work for any other mammals theoretically, but there is still the ethical concern. I wonder how many years it would take for it to become ethical.
     
  9. Oct 2, 2015 #8

    Ryan_m_b

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    Don't be so sure of that, a staggering number of therapies and techniques are developed that work fine in animals but do not work for humans. As for becoming ethical there are two issues I see that this technology would create; the first is a minor one which is the ethics of proving that it works on humans. Taking a fetus and trying to incubate it runs the risk that the fetus will survive but be disabled in some way. Second issue is what this technology would mean for abortion laws which in many countries are restricted to the date in which the fetus can survive independent of the mother.
     
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