Artificial womb created

  • Olivia Fens

Japanese scientists have created a ‘womb’ for incubating IVF fertilised eggs.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science (IIS) have created a microchip that mimics the conditions of a natural womb.

They say using such a device could improve the success rate of IVF.

The researchers say they are providing the embryos with a much more comfortable environment, mimicking what happens in the body. It works like a bed for embryos.

The research, published in  New Scientist Magazine, found that 30 out of 50 fertilised eggs grown on the chip developed into early embryos, compared to 26 out of 50 fertilised eggs grown through traditional IVF.

Traditional IVF uses mineral oil and culture fluid to cover the fertilised egg and stop the egg from drying out. The ‘chips’ now mean that fresh IVF embryos rest on a membrane of cultured uterus cells. Once they are ready to attach themselves to the uterus wall, the eggs are reinserted into the mother's womb.

The scientists found that 80% of embryos held inside the chips were ready for the uterus in 72 hours, while only 20% of embryos held in microdroplets grew to that stage in the same amount of time.

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