3D Printed Cells Could Replace Animal Testing

(Dezeen) 3D printed human cells could replace the need for animal testing of new drugs within five years, according to a pioneering bio-printing expert. “It lends itself strongly to replace animal testing,” said bioengineering PhD student Alan Faulkner-Jones of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. “If it gets to be as accurate as it should be, there would be no need to test on animals.”

Faulkner-Jones demonstrated his technology as part of the 3D Printshow Hospital, a feature designed to showcase medical uses of 3D printing. Using a bio-printer made from a hacked MakerBot printer, Faulkner-Jones demonstrated how human stem cells can be successfully printed to create micro-tissues and micro-organs that can be used to test drugs.

The technology could be ready to replace animal testing within five years, he believes. “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,” he said. “You could even test personalised 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.