Equipped with AI technology, robot nannies can monitor, care for, even evaluate and rank embryos while nurturing in the lab.
The team in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, eastern China, thinks that artificial wombs for the safe development of fetuses and robotic nannies to help monitor and care for them, are both possible in the future with this condition. permitted by law. This could be a breakthrough for the future of childbearing in a country facing the lowest birth rate in decades, SCMP reported on January 30.
Specifically, experts have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can monitor and care for embryos as they develop into a fetus in an artificial womb environment. The new study was published in the journal Biomedical Engineering.
In the study, this AI nanny only cared for a large number of animal embryos. However, the same technology could allow women not to become pregnant. Instead, the fetus will develop outside the body safely and effectively.
The artificial uterus, or “long-term embryo culture device,” is a reservoir with mouse embryos growing in chambers filled with nutrient-rich liquid, according to a team led by Professor Sun Haixuan at the Institute of Engineering and Technology. Suzhou Biomedical Engineering and Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Previously, the development of each embryo had to be observed, recorded and manually adjusted. This is laborious and unsustainable as the size of the study increases.
Robotic nannies can track embryos in unprecedented detail, day and night. AI technology helps detect the slightest signs of change in embryos and adjusts CO2, nutrition and environmental inputs.
The system can even rank embryos by health and developmental potential. When an embryo shows a major defect or dies, the system alerts the technician to remove it from the uterus-like cavity.
Current international law prohibits experimental research on human embryos older than two weeks of age. However, studying these later stages is important because there are still many unsolved mysteries about the physiology of typical human embryonic development, according to Sun and colleagues.
The new technology, they say, not only helps to understand more about the origins of life and human embryonic development, but also provides a theoretical basis for solving birth defects and major reproductive health problems. is different.
The robot nanny can recognize and track embryos and take super-sharp images with different depths by quickly switching lenses, according to the Suzhou research team. AI technology also allows robots to detect and learn from new phenomena that humans may not see or notice. This can help speed up the optimization and repeatability of long-term embryo culture technology in the laboratory.
China is facing a plummeting birth rate, with the number of newborns falling by nearly half in the five years since 2016. Last year’s net population growth was the lowest in six decades, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Country.
Surveys show that young Chinese women are increasingly ignoring traditional priorities about marriage and children, despite the one-child policy being abolished and the state introducing many incentives.
In fact, low birth rates are a worldwide concern, especially in developed societies. When SpaceX founder Elon Musk sparked a discussion on social media about “population collapse” a few weeks ago, some tech experts suggested a lab uterus was the solution. good because it will reduce the pain, risks and costs of childbirth for women.