December 15, 2022
A new video shows a glimpse of the world’s first artificial womb facility, still in the planning stages, which supposedly would be able to incubate as many as 30,000 infants a year. EctoLife—the brainchild of Berlin-based Hashem Al-Ghaili, a biotechnologist and science communicator—is said to be based on more than 50 years of groundbreaking scientific research, reports Metro UK.
The facilities do not exist yet, but Al-Ghaili believes that they would allow infertile couples to conceive a baby and become the true biological parents of their own offspring. He says that the technology is available already, and only ethical constraints are holding the concept back from reality.
Indeed, what Al-Ghaili has dubbed an Elite Package would allow potential moms and dads to genetically engineer an embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb. Everything from eye color and hair color to strength, height, and intelligence can be chosen—and inherited genetic diseases can be avoided.
Al-Ghaili explains, “According to the World Health Organization, around 300,000 women die annually from pregnancy complications. EctoLife artificial womb is designed to alleviate human suffering and reduce the chances of C-sections.
With EctoLife, premature births and C-sections will be a thing of the past.”
He says his facility also would offer a solution for women who had their uterus surgically removed due to cancer or other complications.
It also could help countries that are suffering from severe population decline, including Japan, Bulgaria, South Korea, and many others.
He says, “Every single feature mentioned in the concept is 100% science-based and has already been achieved by scientists and engineers. The only thing left is building a prototype by combining all the features into a single device.
“In terms of timeframe,” Al-Ghaili notes, “it really depends on the ethical guidelines. Right now, research on human embryos is not allowed beyond 14 days. After 14 days, embryos must be destroyed due to ethical concerns. If these ethical restrictions were relaxed, I give it 10 to 15 years before EctoLife becomes widely used everywhere. Add to that five years of public awareness and education to help people become more receptive to the technology.”
As he has conceived it, the facility would feature 75 highly equipped labs, with each able to accommodate up to 400 growth pods or artificial wombs. Every pod would be designed to replicate the exact conditions that exist inside the mother’s uterus.
Under such conditions, 30,000 lab-grown babies per year could be incubated in a single building. The pods are equipped with a screen that displays real-time data on the developmental progress of the baby. The data can also be viewed via a phone app.
Hashem explain,: ‘EctoLife would allow your baby to develop in an infection-free environment. The pods are made of materials that prevent germs from sticking to their surfaces. Every growth pod features sensors that can monitor your baby’s vital signs, including heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and oxygen saturation. The artificial-intelligence-based system also would monitor the physical features of your baby and report any potential genetic abnormalities.”
Because babies are thought to recognize language and learn words while still in the womb, EctoLife growth pods would feature internal speakers that would play a wide range of words and music to each baby. An app would allow parents to choose the playlist to which their baby would listen.
Each group of pods would be connected to two central bioreactors. The first bioreactor would contain nutrients and oxygen, which would be supplied to each baby through an artificial umbilical cord.
This bioreactor also would contain a liquid solution that would serve as the amniotic fluid that surrounds babies in the mother’s uterus. It would contain a mix of vital hormones, growth factors, and antibodies. Thanks to a system controlled by artificial intelligence, each baby would receive custom nutrients tailored to his or her needs.
Finally, the birth process would be accomplished by a push of a button. A statement explains: “EctoLife provides you a safe, pain-free alternative that helps you deliver your baby without stress. The delivery process is smooth, convenient, and can be done with just a push of a button.
“After discharging the amniotic fluid from the artificial womb, you will be able to easily remove your baby from the growth pod. Everything is perfectly designed so you and your partner can enjoy the delivery process.”
However, the hard work starts from that moment on. Even pod babies have dirty diapers, teething pains, gas, and crying jags.
Research contact: @MetroUK