Yes, you read that correctly. We are currently on a scientific footing where we are doing something extraordinary and unanticipated. Scientific theories and concepts have consistently revealed something astounding that has been exceedingly beneficial to all of humanity.
Couples all over the world are currently struggling with infertility issues, and they are constantly searching for a miracle to happen. For successful pregnancies, many scientifically advanced reproductive technologies like IVF have been adopted by certain couples, but sometimes these technologies also fail, leaving these couples hopeless.
Recently, a fresh concept from the “Ectolife” company has gained attention as a potential solution to the problem of infertility. It states that we will be able to create 30,000 customised babies in labs every year using transparent growth pods, or artificial wombs.
Couples may select their baby’s cognitive level, height, eye colour, physical prowess, and even skin tone with an “Elite Package.”
According to a global study, there has been a sharp decline in sperm production from 1973 to 2018, which has resulted in a marked decline in births.
EctoLife, a corporation that provides a solution that even sci-fi lovers find depressing, appears to have been motivated by this widespread decrease. On December 9, the company released an article describing its mission, which is to build the first artificial womb ever. EctoLife: Concept Unveiled for the World’s First Artificial Womb Facility is the headline of the article.
The first attempt by scientists to address the issue of the artificial womb was the production of a lamb embryo in a biobag in 2017. The “project” of childbirth in the future, “the artificial womb,” that will be using artificial intelligence as well, was recently portrayed in a video (available on YouTube), which claims that the time has come for the laboratory to deal with people as well.
Hashem Al-Ghaili, who introduced the video, claims that this project, which aims to help parents who are impatiently expecting a child from “adoption agencies” or who are experiencing pregnancy issues, might replace traditional birth.
Al-Ghaili claims that more than fifty years of “groundbreaking scientific study” by scientists all over the world served as the foundation for the concept of EctoLife. Al-Ghaili is a producer, filmmaker, and science communicator who lives in Berlin. According to his website, he is a “molecular biologist by trade.
“If ethical restrictions are lifted, according to Al-Ghaili, artificial womb facilities may become a reality in around 10 years. According to him, every single element specified in the proposal is wholly founded on science and has already been accomplished by engineers and scientists.
The filmmaker was quoted by Mirror.co.uk as saying, “The only thing left is developing a prototype by merging all the characteristics into a single device.” Al-Ghaili argues that countries with dwindling populations, including South Korea, Japan, and Bulgaria, can “benefit” from the artificial womb facility. What is the “artificial womb facility”? What makes EctoLife essential, and what features does it have? Let’s explore it.
The female and the male will deposit their eggs and sperm using in vitro fertilisation in EctoLife’s labs, with the option to select “genetically better embryos.”
This company continues with the emotionally charged examples to convince us that hybrids are beneficial: “This will be used to control birth defects.” Once the client has been convinced of the value of the lab, the following information is provided:
In order to address inherited genetic disorders, the new “parents” will now have the capacity to genetically alter the embryo before it is implanted in the artificial womb. This company claims that the artificial uterus would revolutionise healthcare, and it keeps citing tragic examples:
“for ladies whose uterus was removed due to cancer or for those who have a low sperm count.” Al Ghaili actually confirms to us that this technique has already been used to fix a genetic mutation causing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in human foetuses.
In conclusion, those who harbour a dread of a disease—whether they themselves suffer from it or believe their children will—have every reason to pay close attention to this company’s thoughtful approach, which focuses on both the desire of couples to have children and the fear of illness.
According to the UK’s Metro newspaper, the facility, which would be powered by renewable energy, would have 75 labs with up to 400 growth pods, or artificial wombs, in each. The environment within these pods is intended to be similar to that found in a mother’s womb.
According to Metro, parents may monitor their child’s growth and development via a screen on the pods that shows real-time data. A phone app can be used to monitor this data as well. According to Al-Ghaili, as quoted by Mirror.co.uk, “The artificial intelligence-based system also analyses the physical characteristics of your baby and reports any probable genetic anomalies.”
EctoLife offers a risk-free, painless alternative that makes childbirth less stressful for the mother. The delivery procedure is simple, easy, and only requires the push of a button, according to a statement reported by Metro. It went on to say, “You will be able to simply remove your child from the growth pod after discharging the amniotic fluid from the artificial womb.”
What experts say? Experts claim that the technology is not particularly dystopic and may someday become a reality. Theoretically, it’s possible, says Andrew Shennan, an obstetrics professor at King’s College London. Giving the correct atmosphere will suffice, and I think the technological means to do so are now in place.
He added that there are many instances where kids are delivered very early and cared for well in incubators, which is a very primitive kind of what Ectolife is talking about, and they are fed by tubes down to their stomachs (HuffPost UK report).
Furthermore, Professor Joyce Harper, head of the Reproductive Science and Society Group at the UCL Institute for Women’s Health, told HuffPost UK, “I have no doubt that at some point, most people will be produced by IVF, and additionally, this EctoLife concept might be possible, and I believe that in science, “you should never say never.”
Bottom line: Perhaps it gives a spooky peek of pregnancy, but science constantly clarifies the mysteries that were originally distrusted.
Dr. Abrar Ul Haq Wani, Assistant Professor cum Junior Scientist, Department of Medicine, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, Punjab.