Perinatal life support system

Artificial womb

Researchers of TU/e and partners aim to develop an artificial womb, which is an adequate substitute for the protective environment of the maternal womb in case of premature birth, preventing health complications. The artificial womb and placenta will provide a natural environment for the baby with the goal to ease the transition to newborn life. The perinatal life support (PLS) system will be developed using breakthrough technology: a manikin will mimic the infant during testing and training, advanced monitoring and computational modeling will provide clinical guidance.

Protecting premature infants

Premature birth is a major problem, affecting more than 1 in 10 babies globally. Currently, infants born between 28 and 37 weeks are housed within neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) which support their cardiorespiratory function and development to full term. This solution, however, yields severe health complications for infants born extremely premature, i.e. <28 weeks, as their organs lack maturity to undergo the complex physiologic transition to extra-uterine life.

The exposure to air is a harsh physiologic adaptation for extremely premature infants, and leads to numerous complication including breathing, cardiac, neurological and metabolic problems, with negative long-term outcome. Despite advances in medicine, for extremly premature infants NICUs are not an adequate substitute for the protective environment of the maternal womb.

almost 3 million for the research on artificial womb

The project received a Future and Emerging Technologies grant of the European program Horizon 2020 of almost 3 million euros. In this project the researchers plan to finish a proof-of-principle in 5 years.  

Outreach and media

Dutch TV program Nieuwsuur (News hour) reported about the symposium in March 2019 about the artificial womb. You can watch it here (in Dutch)

Researchers

Eindhoven University of Technology

Prof. Dr. Frans van de Vosse, professor Cardiovascular Biomechanics (group leader)
Prof. Dr.ir. Loe Feijs, professor Industrial Design (co-leader)
Prof. Dr. Guid Oei, head of perinatal department Máxima Medical center (co-leader)
A strong emphasis is put on clinical and technology-oriented research in a multicentre consortium (e/MTIC Eindhoven, MedTech Innovation Center)

Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, RWTH Aachen University

PD Dr.-Ing. Jutta Arens, Dr. med. Mark Schoberer

LifeTec Group

Marco Stijnen, Bart Smeets

Politecnico di Milano

Prof. Alessandro Torricelli, Prof. Davide Contini, Dr. Rebecca Re

Nemo Healthcare

Rik Vullings, Chris Peters