Baby in Womb Soon, a team of researchers in the UK will be conducting trials of a “silicon womb” which will be inserted into a woman’s own womb. Sounds like a story straight out from a sci-fi flick complete with aliens implanting their offspring into humans, doesn’t it?

But, this new device which incubates embryos to provide a more natural environment could soon become a reality.

In fact, the research team led by Simon Fishel at the UK fertility group CARE Fertility, in Nottingham, hopes that this new device may help to produce better quality embryos and reduce the need to harvest so many eggs from infertile women.

Nowadays, a standard IVF involves the eggs harvested from a woman to be fertilized in the lab where they are allowed to develop in an incubator for 2 to 5 days. The doctor then picks the healthiest embryos that will be transferred into the uterus.

The new device has been developed by Swiss company Anecova and allows embryos created in the lab to be incubated inside a perforated silicon container inserted into a woman’s own womb. After a few days, the doctor recovers the capsule and then selects a few embryos for implantation in the womb.

Thus, this new device is definitely a step ahead of the standard IVF techniques that requires changing the growth medium of the embryos incubated in the lab every few hours to provide new nutrients and get rid of waste. The new device on the other hand, provides a much more natural environment.

The silicon capsule used measures about 5 millimetres in length and less than a millimetre in width having perforated walls with 360 holes, each around 40 microns across. When the embryos have been loaded inside, the ends of this tube are sealed and the container is connected to a flexible wire that holds the device inside the uterus. It has a thread that trails through the cervix for its recovery later on.

A small trial on the device has already been conducted in Belgium and according to Fishel, the results were encouraging but not conclusive.

“It’s a lot closer to a fallopian tube than a plastic tray, but this new device is not an artificial fallopian tube. The trials will tell us whether the environment in the womb will do instead,” said Laurence Shaw from the Bridge Centre fertility clinic in London and a spokesman for the British Fertility Society.