May 30, 2024

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Breeding in Space: Company working on IVF incubator

Breeding in Space: Company working on IVF incubator

Having babies in space seems like the distant future, but SpaceBorn United is already working on making it happen. The company is working on in vitro fertilization (IVF) in space, using an IVF incubator. Business in the morning He asked Angelo Vermeulen, chief technology officer at SpaceBorn United, for an explanation.

Listen to the full conversation with Angelo Vermeulen here, which also discusses finance and ethics:

the essence: SpaceBorn United wants to experimentally fertilize mouse cells in space and later transform into human cells. To this end, it is launching an artificial insemination incubator. The enrichment is then done in space via an automated process.

  • “We are researching the possibilities of human reproduction in space,” Vermeulen explains. This is something you have to investigate step by step. We are currently building an IVF incubator with sperm and eggs that we can send into space, where fertilization can then take place. Initially this will be carried out using mouse cells, but within a few years we hope to be able to work with human sperm and egg cells.
  • “At this point, we don't know how realistic or feasible it is for humans to be able to reproduce effectively in space. We will inhabit this space more and more in the long term. Human reproduction will appear sooner or later. In certain places you are exposed to a lot of radiation. This is bad for acid.” Low gravity can also have negative effects on the growth of the fetus.
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Fertilization in 5 days

  • “The IVF process is very manual. We are not going to send technicians into space, so we are actually obligated to automate the IVF process. By automating and reducing the size of the IVF incubator, we are developing a device that can also be used for treatments on Earth.
  • Vermeulen explains the process in specific terms: “Just before release, the fresh egg and sperm cells are introduced into the incubator. Then the enrichment takes place in space. After about five days of development, you will get a blastocyst, which is a sac made up of a small number of cells. They are frozen and returned to Earth for research and study. (ash)