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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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RE: Silicon womb
By Laitainion on 2/28/2008 5:16:22 PM , Rating: 5
That's a *very* strict interpretation of Natural Selection, and Darwinian theory in general, you have there.

One that just happens to ignore a number of aspects to the theory. "Natural Selection" is a process, like the way iron oxidises (or rusts) when left exposed to water and air. In and of itself Natural Selection is unavoidable, nor is it necessarily good. A species can naturally select itself into an evolutionary dead and wind up extinct.

In addition such a strict interpretation doesn't take into account that the goal of evolution (if it can be said to have a goal) is not to make individual specimens of a given species that are 'better', but to create a species as a whole that is better able to survive in the ever-changing world.

It is in this context that the idea of social animals (such as us, ants, lions, wolves etc. etc.) make sense in evolutionary terms. A number of individuals working together for the greater good of the *whole* group are often more likely to survive that one by itself.

Humanity has simply taken this a step further. Not only do we work together as a group to survive in the harsh world, be as a group we work to change the world. This is what makes us the dominant species on this planet, not anything else. This silicon womb is simply further continuation of that trend.

Finally, suggesting that there is Natural Selection anymore is pure foolishness as the killing of weaker members of the species is only one mechanism by which it works. Other's include simply being able to find a mate to begin with. The way in which we as humans percieve the attractiveness of others is based at least partly by evaluating characteristics in line of the quality of the persons genes. If a person has regular features (i.e. the nose is not too big nor too small), that means they have commonly shared genes. Commonly shared genes are more likely to be good ones. The percieved health of the individual is also important, as a healthy individual is more likely to have strong genes again.

Getting rid of 'weak' genes isn't always a good idea either. One example of this is Sickle Celled Anemia (I think that's spelled right). This is caused by a gene which, when the individual only has one gives resistence to Malaria, but when there are two (one on each chromosome on the pair) dramatically decreases the amount of oxygen the blood can carry.

RE: Silicon womb
By jtemplin on 2/29/2008 2:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
Regarding your last comment the term for what you describe is pleiotropy and it has been suggested as an explanation for the stable existence of mental illness in the population, even ones that lead to suicide. One would think an illness leading to suicide would be an evolutionary dead-end...perhaps the gene is linked to another necessary function. Don't know any research off hand but I come across it frequently.

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