A major advancement in pioneering technology based around the use of an artificial womb to save extremely premature babies is being hailed as a medical and biotechnological breakthrough. Recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study presents world-first data demonstrating the ability of an artificial placenta-based life support platform to maintain extremely preterm lamb fetuses (600 to 700g); equivalent to a human fetus at 24 weeks of gestation.
Head of WIRF’s Perinatal Research Laboratories, Associate Professor Matt Kemp, said that whilst previous research had demonstrated the feasibility of extended survival with artificial placenta technology in late preterm fetuses, there was no published evidence that demonstrated the use of the platform to support extremely preterm fetuses—the eventual clinical target of this technology.
“For several decades there has been little improvement in outcomes of extremely preterm infants born at the border of viability (21-24 weeks gestation),” Assoc Prof Kemp said. “In the AJOG study, we have proven the use of this technology to support, for the first time, extremely preterm lambs equivalent to 24 weeks of human gestation in a stable, growth-normal state for five days. This result underscores the potential clinical application of this technology for extremely preterm infants born at the border of viability. In the world of artificial placenta technology, we have effectively broken the 4 minute mile.”
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