Every year 100 million animals are killed in labs and classrooms across the U.S. many of these mice, rats and rabbits are needed in part to develop the early stages of new vaccines and medicines, which might later go on to treat human illnesses. It is a harsh reality for the animals involved, but one which may be about to change.
Bio-ink and 3D-printed human tissues have been in development for a couple of years now. In the future they just might be used to print living organs for those in need. Large 3D printers could someday replace the surgeon's table, printing layers of bone, tissue and skin onto the injured. And while those days are a few years off yet, 3D-printed human tissue could very soon begin saving millions of lives — those of the humble lab mice.
By 3D-printing human tissues for use in drug trials, we could not only eliminate the need for animal testing, but garner better scientific data than any mouse could ever deliver. 3D printed tissues would afford scientists the ability to test their drugs on actual human systems, without the possibility of the loss of life. Within five years, 3D printed tissues could actually be used to test how a particular patient might react to a vaccine, eliminating complications from rare side effects.