It feels like we are marching towards a future in which key aspects of human reproduction, including the use of artificial wombs, could be substantially different than for most of history.
The FDA is considering allowing a clinical trial for use of artificial wombs in people.
There are important potential medical applications of such engineered wombs such as for babies born prematurely. Many more premies might survive if they could be placed in safe and effective artificial wombs.
In the more distant future, far more advanced artificial womb tech would also potentially open up a path for people who want to become parents but now face infertility. That hypothetical future would have risks including questionable practices involving human embryos grown in lab-generated wombs. Then start thinking about CRISPR gene editing being added into the mix.
Some of this can start to feel a little like Brave New World kind of territory.
For now, the womb technology would help pre-existing late-term human fetuses that have already largely developed the old-fashioned way.
More recommended reads
- The morally ground-shifting legacy of Ian Wilmut and Dolly the sheep, STAT News.
- Mice grown with rat brains to help study cross-species organ donation, New Scientist.
- Elon Musk’s Neuralink Seeks Volunteers for Brain Chip Implant Study, Gizmodo. Now Neuralink is looking for volunteers for this. Here’s the key enrollment info from the PR, “Those who have quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may qualify.” I’m fairly skeptical about this Neuralink trial. As with the artificial wombs, I can see how this might fill a big need but potential misuse of this tech seems closer at hand. You can see an image of the Neuralink N1 implant above.
- Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks, WaPo. To me this kind of story brings to mind the big connections between healthy democracy and active research, which are interdependent. See: Lessons from sharks: how we might grow new teeth via stem cells.
- Jerusalem and Toronto scientists reveal different DNA densities in stem cells, Jerusalem Post.
- UW scientists use stem cells to regenerate tooth enamel, King5 News. I’ve written quite often about stem cell research into dental health including tooth replacement.
- Genetically Modified Pig’s Heart Is Transplanted Into a Second Patient, NYT.
EDITORIAL: Policy support for iPS cell study needs long-term perspective, Asahi. Getting iPS cells from bench to bedside has seemed like a slow process, which is true for all cell therapies. The field needs patience and a long-term perspective.