Human tissues made with 3D printers could very soon save millions of lives: those of laboratory guinea pigs.
More than three hundred million animals are killed every year in scientific laboratories and research centers around the world: these are mostly mice, rats and rabbits that are used to study vaccines and drugs to be experimented in later stages on humans: it is a sad (and sometimes necessary) reality that could soon be avoided.
At Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh they have already adapted ordinary 3D printers to use special "bio-inks" made of cells, and in the near future they will be able to make replacement organs, bones and tissues. In this case, the production of human tissues in the laboratory will be able to provide experiments with more reliable results than those we obtain today through experimentation on guinea pigs, and also make access to subsequent stages of the tests very quick. "A first class of 'micro tissues' could be printed within the next 5 years, at the pace of current research," says the bioengineering researcher. Alan Faulkner-Jones. "It will be possible to use cells from an individual and produce tissue samples in the laboratory to test and make specific and personalized medicines, rather than doing generic drug response tests."
The reactions to a vaccine, a drug (and even a cosmetic) will be ascertained in a short time and without the need to sacrifice small lives.