Melbourne, Aug 18 (PTI) Scientists have developed an artificial womb that has been successfully used to incubate healthy baby lambs for a week, an advance that may one day be able to save the lives of extremely premature human babies.Also Read - Ashton Agar Suffers Gruesome Injury During Marsh One-Day Cup | WATCH VIDEO

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and Tohoku University Hospital in Japan sought to develop an effective treatment strategy for extremely preterm infants born at the border of viability (22-23 weeks). Also Read - New South Wales vs Victoria Dream11 Team Prediction Marsh One-Day Cup 2019: Captain And Vice-Captain, Fantasy Cricket Tips NSW vs VCT Match 17 at MCG, Melbourne 8.30 AM IST

The research, published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed that preterm lambs were successfully maintained in a healthy, infection-free condition with significant growth, for a period of one week using ex- vivo uterine environment (EVE) therapy. Also Read - South Australia vs Western Australia Dream11 Team Prediction Marsh One-Day Cup 2019: Captain And Vice-Captain, Fantasy Cricket Tips SAU vs WAU Match 18 at Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide 5.00 AM IST

With further development, EVE therapy could prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants by potentially offering a medical technology that does not currently exist, said Matt Kemp, associate professor at the University of Western Australia.

“Designing treatment strategies for extremely preterm infants is a challenge,” Kemp said.

“At this gestational age the lungs are often too structurally and functionally under-developed for the baby to breathe easily,” he said.

Researchers hypothesised that one means of improving outcomes for this group would be to treat them as a foetus rather than a small infant.

“Our equipment is essentially is a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta. Put those together, and with careful maintenance what you’ve got is an artificial womb,” Kemp said.

“By providing an alternative means of gas exchange for the foetus, we hoped to spare the extremely preterm cardiopulmonary system from ventilation-derived injury, and save the lives of those babies whose lungs are too immature to breathe properly,” he said.

“The end goal is to provide preterm babies the chance to better develop their lungs and other important organs before being brought into the world,” he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.