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Silicon Womb Detail  (Source: Anecova)

Silicon Womb vs. Traditional AVF  (Source: Anecova)
Silicon womb incubates embryos inside the mothers own body

For the many people around the world affected by infertility who hope to have their own biological children and raise a family, the only option is in vitro fertilization (IVF). With typical IVF, eggs are harvested form a woman in bulk and then fertilized in a lab dish. The dish requires maintenance every few hours to keep waste materials away and keep fresh nutrients the embryo needs to develop available.

After a two to five day incubation period, the healthiest embryos are transferred to the uterus in the hopes of a successful pregnancy. The process has a success rate according to some sources of only 30%. Trials of a new silicon womb are set to begin in the UK and researchers hope the device will reduce the amount of eggs required for IVF and increase the chances of a pregnancy.

The silicon womb allows embryos created in the lab to be placed inside a perforated silicon tube and implanted into the woman’s body. NewScientist reports that the silicon womb is about 5mm long and less than 1mm wide with walls that are perforated with 360 holes about 40 microns in diameter.

Once the lab loads the tube with embryos the tube is implanted via the cervix into the uterus of a woman. The tiny holes allow the normal uterine fluids to reach the embryos providing a more natural environment for them to grow.

Forty women are being recruited for a trial of the silicon womb and each woman will have eight to twelve eggs harvested -- half of the resulting embryos will be incubated in the lab and half inside the silicon womb. Researchers say that half of the participants will have the silicon womb’s removed after two days and the embryos will be checked for genetic defects and the remainder of the volunteers will have the silicon wombs left for four days.

Simon Fishel, the man leading the trial at CARE Fertility in the UK, said that the trials are encouraging, but not conclusive. Fishel told NewScientist, “We will be able to directly compare the results of the in vitro and in vivo techniques.”

Fishel goes on to say, “We don't really know the full ambient conditions of the reproductive tract. It is also a dynamic environment that changes constantly, and we can't replicate that."

Even if the silicon womb works, it is still not ideal according to researchers. In a normal pregnancy the embryo develops inside the fallopian tube during the typical seven days it takes to move from the ovary to the uterus.

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Pretty Sweet
By Screwuhippie on 2/28/2008 2:36:02 PM , Rating: 2
Man ... some science is scary and some is very cool and promising! Have some very good friends who are unable to have children ... they have spent more money then I can imagine trying to do IVF but ... no luck. Hopefully breakthrough like this will give these wonderful people more chances in the future.

But ... hopefully these types of good inventions are prevented for being used for "evil ends". For every breakthrough, something bad can still be developed (depending I guess on how you look at it). A few more DNA tweaks, some more powerful computers, and boom ... Clone Wars! (yeah big jump sorry).

RE: Pretty Sweet
By eye smite on 2/28/2008 2:52:24 PM , Rating: 4
I'm thinking scientists are just like hackers. When asked why did you do it, they say, just to see if we could. lol

RE: Pretty Sweet
By FITCamaro on 2/28/2008 3:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
Also would be good since most of those "women has octuplets" stories are from women who've done IVF or taken other fertility drugs.

Honestly I think if I couldn't have kids naturally, that'd just be the way it was. Besides, the natural way is just a far more fun method if you ask me. ;)

RE: Pretty Sweet
By Spivonious on 2/28/2008 3:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, let natural selection take its course.

RE: Pretty Sweet
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 2/28/2008 3:46:01 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the people that have 4+ babies are not from doing IVF. An IVF doctor won't put that many embryos back in a woman unless it was an extreme case.

The reason people have that many babies is when their normal doctor (not a fertility specialist) is irresponsible and just gives the woman the drugs to produce more eggs. And then, tells them to just try on their own without monitoring how many eggs she actually has.

RE: Pretty Sweet
By 440sixpack on 2/28/2008 4:38:38 PM , Rating: 2
Very true - my wife and I went through IVF, and the doctor would implant two embryos at the most. Irresponsible use of the fertility drugs is what leads to most of those multiple pregnancies.

We were lucky to wind up in that 30% that succeeds, she is 5 months pregnant right now with our first child. The only thing that was holding us back was the age factor - when the time came we could try for children, there simply weren't enough good quality eggs left to have a good chance of success in the few years she had left. So we went the fertility route to up the chances. I don't really look at us as "genetically defective".

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