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March 26, 2016
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1 Introduction
Artificial womb



In the field of ectogenesis, an artificial womb is used to grow an embryo outside the body of a female.

Research into the engineering of an artificial womb was conducted at the Cornell University Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, http://www.ivf.org/ under Dr. Hung-Ching Liu. In 2002 she announced that she and her team had grown tissue samples out of cells removed from a human uterus. When engineered to resemble the shape of a natural womb, human embryos were inserted into these tissues. The researchers found that the embryos nestled into the artificial womb's lining and started to grow.

The use of artificial wombs would be to assist women with damaged or diseased wombs to be able to conceive to term. As the womb is created from the woman's own endometrial cells, there is minimal chance of organ rejection.

The experiment was halted after two weeks, to stay within the permitted legal limits of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) legistation in the United States. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,648024,00.html

Another form of artificial womb is the use of "uterine tanks". Such tanks are filled with amniotic fluid which is maintained at body temperature, and the embryonic umbilical cords are attached to external pumps which regulate nutrient intake and waste outflow. An advantage of such a system is that it would allow the fetus to develop in an environment which is not influenced by the presence of disease, environmental pollutants, alcohol, or drugs which the mother may have in her circulatory system. However, it would also not benefit from the protection of the mothers immune system. Alternatively, it would also reduce the chances of miscarriage and premature births by allowing the embryo to develop full term outside the mother's womb, transferred after the initial 17 weeks of implantation. Such research is being conducted by Dr. Yoshinori Kuwabara at Juntendo University in Tokyo.

Although the technology does not currently exist to raise an embryo from conception to full development outside of a human body, the possibility of such technology raises questions with respect to cloning and abortion. The elimination of the need for a living womb would make cloning easier to carry out and yet harder for legal authorities to track. At the same time, the capacity to raise an unwanted fetus separate from the mother would allow the option of "fetus adoption", but might raise concerns with respect to children born with no connection to a parent. Some pro-life groups argue that this would allow a father to have a choice in whether to carry a pregnancy to term.

In fiction, the use of artificial wombs is most famously described by Aldous Huxley in his 1932 novel, Brave New World. In Huxley's dystopian future, children are engineered ("decanted") in massive factories. The same scenario is true for Logan's Run, where children are cloned in meccano-breeders by a computer-controlled life-support system which strictly regulates and maintains the size of the population. Philip K. Dick uses the term synthetic womb in his book, The Divine Invasion. In Star Wars: Episode II on the planet Kamino a vast complex makes hundreds of thousands of human clones. It has revolving hubs of laboratory flasks (artificial wombs) containing developing embryos in nutrient solution. They will serve as soldiers for the Republic and to aid the Jedi. Otherwise they would be largely outnumbered against the Separatists droid armies. The 1999 movie The Matrix also features the artificial gestation of humans. Artificial wombs have made an appearance in two of the famous Gundam series; in Gundam Wing, one of the main characters has 29 sisters that were born from artificial wombs; in Gundam SEED, Kira Yamato is the Ultimate Coordinator because he was grown from an artificial womb.

  • Embryo space colonization

Category:Medical research

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Artificial womb".

Last Modified:   2005-12-23

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