Company advances replacing animals with 3D bioprinting

October 14, 2016

Ryan Franks has a vision. The CEO of a biotech startup, he wants to move 3D printing out of the high-priced, inaccessible sector and into the hands of more scientists to tap this amazing technology.

To that end, his San Francisco based company Aether, recently agreed to donate over a dozen 3D printers to some of the world’s top universities and research institutions. The goal is to promote the use of the company’s flagship product, the Aether 1bioprinter, currently the most advanced 3D printer available.


Photo credit: Aether

But it’s more than that. The company’s aim is for affordable and accessible 3D bioprinting to launch a boom in scientific innovation and achievement to improve quality of life. 

That includes using bioprinting as a means to eliminate animal testing. In that spirit, Aether has requested that all recipients of the donated printers agree to completely avoid live animal testing for these research collaborations!

CAARE was so wowed by Aether’s announcement that we reached out to Ryan Franks to let him know how much we appreciate his company’s strong stance to end animal experiments.

“We want as many researchers as possible to know bioprinting can be used right now with current technology to make a substantial reduction in animal testing,” he told CAARE. “We're hoping this can make a major impact on the reduction and eventual elimination of animal testing.”

What Ryan Franks is referring to is the awesome capability of 3D bioprinting to transform biomedical research. In 3D bioprinting, viable human cells are made into “bio-ink” which is deposited in ultra-fine layers, assembling into realistic, living tissue.

The result is fully functional human tissues, like nerve, heart and bone, which can be used for research and numerous clinical applications. Eventually whole organs and bionic implantable devices will be developed that can heal and grow because they are made from living cells.


3D printing also allows drugs to be tested on human tissue instead of animals, and will enhance the ability of personalized medicine to tailor doses to specific individuals by using their own cells.  It is being used to expand current work with organs-on-chips, and other advanced 3D organ models to play an essential role in drug development and disease research without the use of animals.

By making the currently overpriced technology of 3D printing more available, Franks believes that the widespread adoption of bioprinting technology has the ability to double or even triple the current speed of medical research.


Photo credit: Aether

“Society would be greatly rewarded by the production and adoption of new scientific methods that can simulate the human body far better than animals,” he explained to CAARE. “Clinical trials would be much safer for people because drugs or treatments would have been proven safe on a superior human-relevant model, rather than on an animal.”

CAARE is grateful to Ryan Franks and Aether for bringing us closer to the day where using animals will be obsolete compared to using fully functional human tissue that accurately represents human biology.  

beagle_closeup_cage.jpgWe are delighted to encounter a leading-edge company that understands the potential for technology to bring about an end to animal experimentation. This is something we hope to see more of in the future, and something CAARE works toward every day.

Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research (CAARE), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established to highlight and promote research without animals.

Your donation helps us carry out our mission to speak up for animals in laboratories, and to end animal suffering by disseminating information about the power and progress of research without animals.