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FDA Set to Delve into ‘Artificial Womb’ Prospects for Neonatal Care

Pioneering The Future: FDA’s Pediatric Advisory’s Upcoming Dive into Neonatal Innovations

The much-anticipated FDA’s Pediatric Advisory on Artificial Womb Technology is on the horizon, and is set to shed light on the regulatory and ethical considerations surrounding this groundbreaking neonatal tech. 

Following this, slated for September 19-20, 2023, the committee seeks to address the potential of Artificial Womb Technology (AWT) as a new standard-of-care for extremely premature infants. Moreover, setting the stage: The Meeting’s Agenda.

Setting the Stage: The Meeting’s Agenda

The meeting’s focal point revolves around the safety and effectiveness of AWT devices. Particular attention will be given to the ethical and regulatory concerns related to first-in-human studies. The discussion aims to explore AWT’s role as an alternative to present treatments for premature infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

A Glimpse into Past Experiments

Researchers have conducted a number of experiments on animals, even though the idea of an artificial womb for humans is new. In these trials, they have used various designs and methods.

A notable study in 2017 by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia observed lambs developing in a sterilised plastic bag for 28 days, and showing promising growth in major organs. In addition, several other experiments worldwide have also shown varied results, from successful lung development to challenges with brain injury.

Opening the Floor: Public Participation

The initial day of the meeting, September 19, is open to the public, welcoming insights and perspectives. Subsequently, the FDA has established a dedicated docket for public comments. Meanwhile, stakeholders are encouraged to submit their views by September 18, 2023. This open dialogue serves as a testament to the FDA’s commitment to fostering a comprehensive understanding of AWT’s potential implications.

The Bigger Picture: Viability and Ethical Discussions

The concept of viability, or the ability of an infant to survive outside the womb, might undergo scrutiny with the advent of artificial wombs. Consequently, if approved for human use, physicians would need to weigh the potential benefits and risks, engaging in profound discussions with parents. 

The FDA’s advisory committee is preparing to address these ethical considerations. Alongside discussions about regulations specific to child trials, they emphasise the importance of enhanced safety measures.

Behind Closed Doors: Confidential Discussions

On September 20, discussions will pivot towards more sensitive aspects of the technology. Notably, it will focus on trade secrets and confidential commercial information, ensuring a thorough and protected examination of the subject.

Paving the Way Forward: Accessibility and Outreach

To foster transparency and accessibility, the FDA plans to provide a live webcast of the meeting on September 19. Additionally, an archive of the webcast will be available post-meeting, ensuring those interested have ample avenues to access the deliberations.

The upcoming advisory meeting stands as a testament to the leaps in neonatal care technology. As the FDA’s Pediatric Committee delves deeper into the intricacies of AWT, the world watches with bated breath, eager to understand the future of neonatal care.

References

  1. Pediatric Advisory Committee Meeting Announcement. (2001, September 19). U.S. Food And Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/advisory-committees/advisory-committee-calendar/pediatric-advisory-committee-meeting-announcement-09192023

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