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Article  The Brave New World of synthetic humans + Artificial wombs closer to reality

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Artificial wombs for premature babies are a step closer to reality

EXCERPT: Vitara’s artificial womb looks like a plastic bag with connected tubes—some to deliver fresh amniotic fluid and others to provide oxygen and medications to the fetus through its umbilical blood vessels, according to published research. Scientists have said they aim for it to nurture premature babies born at 23 to 25 weeks of gestational age, allowing their lungs to develop at least several more weeks in the fluid environment so helpful to their growth... (MORE - missing details)

The Brave New World of synthetic humans

INTRO: Last week, Israeli scientists announced that they had created a model human embryo without using sperm or eggs; are we heading for a future where procreation is an entirely technological, not biological, phenomenon? Genetics and reproduction specialist Dr Güneş Taylor explains what this means for the future of human reproduction.

EXCERPTS: . . . Fertility technology and genetic engineering technology such as CRISPR raise numerous ethical questions. Are there new ethical questions that are raised because of this new achievement?

Of course. New innovations always raise new perspectives and questions, and I am certain there will be many. For me personally, one of the most interesting ethical questions that has immediately sprung to mind is: is it more ethical to use animal models or generate enough human embryo models to do meaningful experiments directly in the human context? Of course, adult disease experiments will still need animal models, but these stem cell-based embryo models do present a tantalising opportunity to reduce the number of animals used in research.

[...] What will the future of human development look like if reproduction no longer requires a sperm, egg or womb? Are we heading for utopia, where our current reproductive problems are all solved, or a dystopia where genetic engineering creates a new underclass?

These new embryo models replicate the very earliest stages of pregnancy – not the whole 9 months! So while this is a great opportunity for us to reflect on how we think the tools we have at our disposal should be used to improve lives in the future, it remains to be seen if it is even possible to grow a baby without a womb. It’s much too early to be celebrating the advent of a reproductive utopia, sadly! (MORE - missing details)

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