3-D Printers Could Become Research Animals' Best Friends

Bioengineering PhD student (and all around awesome dude) Alan Faulkner-Jones is working on using the technology of 3-D printing to replace medical animal testing.

At the 3-D Print Show in London, Faulkner-Jones has been using a modified MakerBot bio-printer to demonstrate how human stem cells can be successfully printed to create micro-tissues and micro-organs that can be used to test drugs, according to DeZeen Magazine.

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In hopes for the future, he says “The micro-tissues I think would be in the order of five years away hopefully, if we carry on at the pace we are now…You could even test personalized drugs. So you’d be able to use cells of the person that is ill and create specific micro-tissues that would replicate their response, rather than the response of a generic human.”

More humane and more effective! That’s the future of medical technology.

When asked by DeZeen if his intention with the technology is aimed at replacing animal testing, he replied succinctly, “I’m aiming it at testing.” He later elaborates with, “You’ve spent so long testing them [drugs] on animals that they don’t work on humans. Or if they do, they produce adverse side effects. So the idea is that we would produce micro-tissues of specific organs in the body and then they would have the same reaction to the physiological environment – drugs, everything – as the entire organ would do, but on a much smaller scale.”

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It’s refreshing to see such inspired work in the technological field to combat animal testing. Kudos to you, Alan Faulkner-Jones, and may many more scientists follow in your footsteps!

Image Credit: Alexis Croswell

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