China Presents 'AI Nanny' for Embryos in Artificial Wombs, More Efficient Than Humans

CC0 / / Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.02.2022
The technology of ectogenesis isn't new to science that has seen various experiments involving successful extra-uterine animal birth. Despite experiments on human embryos being forbidden, the possibility of total artificial childbirth has brought warnings that it could completely change our reality.
Chinese scientists have developed an AI robot system that takes care of embryos in artificial wombs with efficiency unattainable by humans. Its main goal is to facilitate the cultivation of animal embryos for scientific purposes, but in theory such innovation can be used for human embryos, according to a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering.
Scientists from the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology have already tested the operation of the robot on embryos of mice. The institute's artificial womb consists of several containers with a nutrient mixture in which embryos are placed. Researchers previously had to manually track and document the condition of embryos and adjust the operation of the robot.
The AI robot nanny was said to be monitoring the embryos around the clock, capturing ultra-clear images of them through a system of sensors and lenses, and as well as regulating in real time the temperature, air supply, water, and nutrition. The AI also indicates which embryos develop incorrectly or die so that they can be removed from the artificial uterus in a timely manner.
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The researchers hope that the technology will help in studying foetal development and the formation of birth defects.
Scientists around the world have made tangible progress in creating a full-fledged artificial uterus. In 2019, researchers from Beijing were able to bring a fertilised monkey egg to the stage of organ formation without a mother's body. Israeli biologists have also successfully grown embryos of mice up to half of the gestation period.
Nevertheless, clinical trials involving human babies are a long way off, according to experts. Currently, the technology of an artificial womb is seen as tool to address prematurity by way of not keeping babies in an open environment, but in conditions that simulate a uterus. Still, there is much research needed to implement such innovations.

"Anyone who tells you they are going to be doing this in two years either has a wealth of data that is not in the public domain or is being a bit sensationalist", said Matt Kemp, head of the perinatal lab at the Women & Infants Research Foundation (WIRF) in Western Australia. "All the experiments to date have been done on foetuses that come from healthy pregnancies".

According to him, "that's simply not the case for a 21- or 22-week human foetus. These are not going to be healthy babies. Getting this into clinical use is going to be incredibly difficult".
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