EctoLife: The World’s First Artificial Womb Facility – In 1999, a Hollywood film ‘Matrix’ came out, which showed humans being produced in a factory. The film left people all over the world in awe, but do you think it is possible for a woman to have children without a womb? Scientist and filmmaker Hasham Al-Ghaili has answered this question in the affirmative. Ghaili claims that soon it will be possible to produce a baby in a pod, a machine, at the company ‘Ectolife’.
Let us know in Bhaskar Explainer what is ‘Baby Pod’ and how a child is born through it?
EctoLife: The World’s First Artificial Womb Facility
Question 1: Who are those who claim to create babies in machines by defying nature?
Answer: Hashem Al-Ghaili, who claims to have produced a baby in a lab, is a resident of Berlin, the capital of Germany. Apart from being a scientist by profession, Ghaili is also a film-producer.
He said – ‘Ectolife’ will become the world’s first artificial child-producing company. He said – whatever discoveries have been made in this field by scientists all over the world in the last 50 years can be taken forward by getting them all together.
The ‘Ectolife’ company has stated on its website that initially 75 labs have been set up to work on this project. Each lab has 400 ‘baby pods’ installed to produce babies. This will produce 30,000 babies by machine.
Question 2: What is a ‘Baby Pod’ and how does it work?
Answer: A ‘Baby Pod’ is a machine that can produce a baby without a womb. This machine is designed to resemble a woman’s womb, hence it is also called an artificial womb.
To understand how this machine works, it is necessary to know how the embryo develops in the womb. In fact, a fetus in the womb receives oxygen, nutrients and hormones from the mother’s body through a placenta. At this time, the carbon dioxide released by the baby mixes with the mother’s blood and is excreted. The womb also has a fixed temperature and environment for the embryo. The ‘Baby Pod’ also helps to nurture the fetus just like a woman’s womb.
Question 3: What is the process of having a baby through ‘Baby Pod’?
Answer: If a man has problem of infertility and a woman cannot become a mother then this technique can be resorted to. For this, first a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg are obtained in a machine. After this the machine starts working like any fetus.
The ‘Baby Pod’ is equipped with advanced sensors, which are connected to an app. With this app, parents can monitor real-time skin, pulse, temperature, heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, breathing rate, heart, brain, kidney, liver and other body parts.
Like a female fetus, this artificial womb is also injected with ‘amniotic fluid’. After this fluid is removed after 9 months, the newborn is also removed from the machine.
Question 4: Will artificial pregnancy be different from natural pregnancy?
Answer: Ghaili, the scientist working on this technology, has claimed that this artificial embryo will be so advanced that the common man cannot even think about it. He said – parents will now be able to give birth to a child of their choice.
In this artificial womb, the child’s intelligence level, height, hair, eye color, physical strength and skin color can be set.
Question 5: Why was the need for an artificial womb felt?
Answer: On the need for artificial embryos Scientist Al-Ghali claims that the facility of artificial embryos will be used to increase the population in countries with declining populations such as Japan, Bulgaria and South Korea.
Apart from this there are many married couples who cannot have sex or have some other problem. If they want to have a baby without using another woman’s embryo then this machine will be helpful for them. Not only this, this technol
ogy will prove to be very special for infertile couples and women undergoing abortion.
Question 6: Can a baby be born only in a lab or at home through a baby pod?
Answer: According to the company ActoLife, if a couple doesn’t have enough time to come to the lab to watch their baby develop in a pod, they can also take the ‘baby pod’ home. Each pod comes with a battery, which can be carried discreetly in your bedroom. The process of making a bike in this machine starts only after all kinds of tests. In such a condition there is less chance of complications at birth i.e. any disease at birth.
Question 7: What is the biggest problem with having a baby through an artificial womb?
Answer: The first 10 days after the fertilization of male sperm and female egg is the most important time. During these 10 days, the sperm and the egg together take the form of an embryo. The science behind the transformation of sperm and egg into an embryo is still unclear. In such a situation, it is a challenge for scientists to exactly adapt this natural process in an artificial womb.
The mother’s uterus has its own natural system for blood to reach the fetus through the tissues. Scientists have not yet been able to develop this system for artificial embryos. These are two of the biggest challenges currently facing scientists for developing embryos in artificial wombs.
Question 8: What do experts say about having a baby in an artificial womb?
Answer: According to Professor Andrew Shannon of King’s College London, this technology could soon become a reality. Shannon said there are many examples where the fetus has been removed prematurely, the newborn has been placed in an incubator and is healthy. This newborn baby is fed water and milk through a tube.
Apart from this, the process of making biochemical and antibodies happens naturally in the womb. Scientists are doing research to understand this process. As this process is fully understood, it will be possible to create a baby in an artificial womb.
Professor Joyce Harper of the UCL Institute for Women’s Health said- ‘Nothing is impossible in science. I have no doubt that in the future most people will be able to have children through IVF.
Question 9: Has there been talk of giving birth in an artificial womb before?
Ans: So far no scientist or organization has claimed to create human beings in artificial embryos, but this type of experiment on sheep has been successful in the past.
Apart from this, scientists have successfully nurtured mouse embryos for 11 days in an artificial womb. Experiments on animals usually preceded humans, although Sonography may have helped to understand the development of babies in the human womb, but no one had previously claimed to have babies in an artificial womb outside a woman’s body.
Question 10: What is the biggest controversy surrounding this technology?
Answer: The biggest controversy surrounding this technique is who will control the baby when it is born by the machine? How will its implementation stop infanticide and female foeticide? The researcher says that it is similar to nuclear technology. If there is no proper law, the possibility of its misuse is also very high.