- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2017

Over 20 years since scientists first successfully cloned Dolly the sheep, lambs are again helping to push the envelope of human development.

Scientists announced successful tests of an artificial womb continuing the development of premature lambs, in a study published this week in the journal Nature.

The researchers are associated with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The premature lambs were “developmentally equivalent” to human babies born extremely premature, the report said.

Placing the lambs in a bag to mimic the uterus, they not only survived for four weeks, but showed significant development.

The premature lamb is connected to the mock uterus by a synthetic umbilical chord and suspended in a man-made amniotic fluid.

It “closely reproduces the environment of the womb,” the scientists wrote.

“We show that fetal lambs that are developmentally equivalent to the extreme premature human infant can be physiologically supported in this extra-uterine device for up to four weeks,” the researchers wrote in their abstract.

Babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature, with the most serious complications occurring at preterm birth of 22-25 weeks.

It is the most common cause of infant death and leading cause of long-term disability, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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