Spanish Researchers Want to Use Artificial Uterus to “Trick Nature”

Scientists in Barcelona, Spain, are attempting to “trick nature” by creating a uterus out of unique materials. The artificial uterus is intended to shield prematurely born infants whose development is insufficient for them to live outside the womb. Animal fetuses were used in the artificial uterus’ testing by the scientists. One fetus was successfully maintained for twelve days. Additionally, the researchers synthesized a placenta. An organ called the placenta forms during pregnancy to supply nourishment to the developing fetus inside the uterus.


The fetus’s organs can continue to develop in a protected environment that is recreated by the artificial uterus. The material used to make it is clear and, according to the researchers, does not react with tissue. Amniotic fluid, which aids in the development of the fetus inside the uterus, is continuously introduced into the artificial uterus through a system that is attached to it. The fetus is kept isolated from the outer world by the artificial uterus, which also allows for testing and observation. Premature babies, or undeveloped babies, born after six months of pregnancy or fewer are thought to be highly premature and have a significant chance of dying or being disabled. According to the World Health Organization’s most recent statistics, 900,000 preterm newborns lost their lives worldwide in 2019.


Project manager Eduard Gratacos is in charge. He stated to the Reuters news agency that the goal of the research is to create a mechanism that would allow them to maintain a fetus in fetal circumstances even when it is separated from its mother. The umbilical cord, which connects the fetus to the placenta, is one of these passageways for breathing and feeding. In order for a fetus to survive and develop, the researchers intend to maintain it submerged in fluid and at a consistent temperature. 35 scientists from the BCNatal Medical Research Center work under Gratacos’ direction. The University of Barcelona, two hospitals, and the nonprofit La Caixa foundation are all connected to the complex. It brings together specialists in obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine.


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