The miracle of life

Pregnancy is a wonderful yet also very scary experience in a woman’s and couple’s life. It is beautiful that a new life is developing, and the anticipation and joy is often great. But this new life is also still very fragile especially in the early stages when all the organs are growing and developing. The protective environment in the mother’s womb is essential to protect the infant from harm in the outside world and enable growth. If the baby is born too early, it is ripped out of this environment before it has fully matured to withstand the outside conditions. This can be a scary thought and put the mother and everyone close under stress which of course is also not beneficial.

Introduction video

To introduce the aim and goals of the Perinatal Life Support project, the PLS communication team created a video animation. In this animation, we explain in a nutshell the societal challenge of premature birth, as well as the impact for the child and how we envisage to help it bridge the time until the lungs are ready to breathe air. In the following paragraphs on this page we'll keep you informed on our progress and updates.

Premature birth

As many as 10% of all babies worldwide are born prematurely. Especially the ones born before the 28th week of gestation experience major long-term problems. At such a premature stage the baby still needs protection from the harshness of the outside world for which it is not yet ready, and needs support from its mother to support its growth and well-being. In absense of this protective and nurturing environment, even in the existing neonatal intensive care units, the infants can hardly survive and development of organs such as the lungs, heart, and brain will suffer.

The Quest

The project consortium, consisting of the Eindhoven University of Technology, RWTH Aachen University, Politecnico di Milano, Nemo Healthcare and LifeTec Group, will be looking to create an artificial environment in which premature infants can be supported where current methods run short. The envisioned solution is an artificial womb that can mimic the natural environment an infant experiences within the mother and allows the babies (born between 24-28 weeks) to further develop until their chances to a healthy life are significantly increased.  Not only will this be beneficial to the infants, but would also give a lot of peace of mind to the mothers and their loved ones in a very taxing situation.

  • Bertus working on blood circulation experiments
  • Alicia perfusing an isolated liver

What will we do?

Within the 5 years of the EU-funded project new concepts towards this perinatal life support will be developed and tested in a cutting-edge approach. This is where LifeTec Group comes in: with our ex vivo technologies, a lot can already be learned and improved without the need for any animal experiments. If an isolated organ from the slaughterhouse can be kept alive and healthy in a womb-like environment already, many underlying issues regarding the oxygen and nutrient supply, cannulation, blood circulation and basic design can be resolved. Together with computational modeling and infant-mimicking manikins, many safety concerns can already be alleviated in the preclinical phase.

Work in progress

Driven to contribute

The first kick-off meeting was held at LifeTec Group’s premises in November of 2019 and since then a lot of work has already been done to come closer to our goal. The team at LifeTec is very enthusiastic and driven to contribute to this great cause and work together with the multi-disciplinary consortium to realize a healthier life for prematurely born babies and help the whole family. If you want to learn more about this project, visit the official project website [link] or get in touch with our team:

This project is funded by Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union under grant agreement number 863087.

Colofon
Perinatal Life Support
Head of MedTech Innovation

Marco Stijnen

R&D engineer

Elke van Soest

R&D Engineer

Mattia D'Alessi

Project Manager and Engineer

Anke Waterschoot

R&D Engineer

Bertus van de Wetering

Get in touch with Sheila to learn more!

Partner Relations Manager
Sheila Owen
Call at +31 6 48118219 or e-mail us

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