Controversial clinic expects to develop 30,000 lab-grown babies yearly
Developer expects technology will be used around world within next 10-15 years
Parents would be able to watch growth and development of their child in see-through womb, while monitoring health via app
BERLIN — A biotechnologist in Germany is developing the world’s first artificial womb facility, and it lets you choose baby’s characteristics from a menu. EctoLife, able to grow 30,000 babies a year, is said to be based on over fifty years of groundbreaking scientific research.
The concept is the brainchild of Berlin-based Hashem Al-Ghaili. He says the facilities would allow infertile couples to conceive a baby and become the true biological parents of their own offspring.
A so-called ‘Elite Package’ would allow you to genetically engineer the embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb. Everything from eye and hair color to strength, height, and intelligence can be chosen, and inherited genetic diseases can be avoided.
“Introducing EctoLife, the world’s first artificial womb facility, which is powered entirely by renewable energy,” Al-Ghaili says in a statement, per SWNS. “According to the World Health Organization, around 300,000 women die from pregnancy complications. EctoLife artificial womb is designed to alleviate human suffering and reduce the chances of C-sections. With EctoLife, premature births and C-sections will be a thing of the past.”
Hashem says it also offers a solution for women who had their uterus surgically removed due to cancer or other complications. It could also help countries that are suffering from severe population decline, including Japan, Bulgaria, South Korea, and many others. He believes the technology is available already, and only ethical constraints are holding the concept back from reality.
“Every single feature mentioned in the concept is 100% science-based and has already been achieved by scientists and engineers. The only thing left is building a prototype by combining all the features into a single device,” he says. “In terms of timeframe, it really depends on the ethical guidelines. Right now, research on human embryos is not allowed beyond 14 days. After 14 days, embryos must be destroyed due to ethical concerns. If these ethical restrictions are relaxed, I give it 10 to 15 years before we EctoLife becomes widely used everywhere. Add to that five years of public awareness and education to help people become more receptive to the technology.”
The facility features 75 highly equipped labs, with each able to accommodate up to 400 growth pods or artificial wombs. Every pod is designed to replicate the exact conditions that exist inside the mother’s uterus. A single building can incubate up to 30,000 lab-grown babies per year.
The pods are equipped with a screen that displays real-time data on the developmental progress of the baby. The data can also be viewed via a phone app.
“EctoLife allows your baby to develop in an infection-free environment. The pods are made of materials that prevent germs from sticking to their surfaces. Every growth pod features sensors that can monitor your baby’s vital signs, including heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate and oxygen saturation,” sys Al-Ghaili. “The artificial-intelligence-based system also monitors the physical features of your baby and reports any potential genetic abnormalities.”
Because babies are thought to recognise language and learn words while still in the womb, EctoLife growth pods feature internal speakers that play a wide range of words and music to your baby. An app allows choice of playlist baby listens to and the ability to sing directly to them to gain familiarity with your voice before birth.
“Our goal is to provide you with an intelligent offspring that truly reflects your smart choices,” says Hashem.
The Elite Package allows you to genetically engineer the embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb.
“And if you want your baby to stand out and have a brighter future, our Elite Package offers you the opportunity to genetically engineer the embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb,” the site explains. “Thanks to CRISPR-Cas 9 gene editing tool, you can edit any trait of your baby through a wide range of over 300 genes. By genetically engineering a set of genes, the Elite Package allows you to customize your baby’s eye color, hair color, skin tone, physical strength, height, and level of intelligence. It also allows you to fix any inherited genetic diseases that are part of your family history so that your baby and their offspring will live a healthy comfortable life free of genetic diseases.”
Each group of pods is connected to two central bioreactors. The first bioreactor contains nutrients and oxygen, which are supplied to your baby through an artificial umbilical cord. This bioreactor also contains a liquid solution that serves as the amniotic fluid that surrounds babies in the mother’s uterus. It’s rich of vital hormones, growth factors and antibodies that sustain your baby’s growth and development.
Thanks to a system controlled by artificial intelligence, each baby receives custom nutrients tailored to their needs.
The second bioreactor is designed to eliminate any waste products produced by the babies, which are transferred by an artificial umbilical cord. With the help of a delicate layer of engineered enzymes, the second bioreactor can then recycle waste products and turn them back into useful nutrients. This way, the facility ensures a steady and sustainable supply of fresh nutrients to your baby.
The birth process is done by a push of a button.
“EctoLife provides you a safe, pain-free alternative that helps you deliver your baby without stress. The delivery process is smooth, convenient, and can be done with just a push of a button,” the company says. “After discharging the amniotic fluid from the artificial womb, you will be able to easily remove your baby from the growth pod. Everything is perfectly designed so you and your partner can enjoy the delivery process.”