What breathes and bleeds, but doesn't suffer or feel pain?

January 27, 2016

At the center of the expanding industry in non-animal technologies are the pioneering companies using innovative technology to develop and design these methods.

One such company, SynDaver Labs, is a booming biotech business that manufactures synthetic medical-grade tissue crafted into realistic models of body tissues and organs, including life-size synthetic cadavers for surgical education, training, and other research.


Clinicians train using SynDaver's life-size cadaver
Photo credit: SynDaver Labs

From its beginnings as a small company called “Animal Replacement Technologies,” SynDaver has grown to manufacture over 100 synthetic body parts made from novel materials that mimic the essential properties of living tissue. They are used around the globe by medical device manufacturers, hospitals, universities, medical schools, and the U.S. military.

The company’s flagship product, The SynDaver Synthetic Human, has gained widespread attention through appearances on Shark Tank, MythBusters, Grey's Anatomy, and in the prestigious journal Science. Why all the hype? SynDaver Labs claims that their bleeding, breathing model of a living patient is more accurate, reliable, and cost-effective than real cadavers and animals.

The company’s synthetic tissues are specifically designed to replicate the structural and physical properties of their human analogues. These properties, like the density of a bone or the elasticity of a muscle, make a difference when a force is exerted upon the body, and can greatly impact the quality and outcomes of surgical training or research.


Close-up SynDaver Human Patient
Photo credit: SynDaver Labs

According to a SynDaver white paperthe SynDaver Human also allows for better statistical controls and more precise results because its components are manufactured to specification. This minimizes any natural variation and increases the reliability of the results. As an added bonus, any of its synthetic tissues or organs can be replaced with an identical one, allowing for multiple tests under nearly uniform conditions. This increase in control and reliability makes for better science.

Thanks to SynDaver and pioneering scientists in the U.S. Military
, it looks like the sun may finally be setting on the days of brutally mutilating animals for combat medic training. The SynDaver Patient can be cut, crushed, and damaged in any way that a human being can, and it actually responds like real person, not a goat or a pig. 


Photo credit: SynDaver Labs

But what will we use for veterinary training? That's where the new SynDaver Surgical Canine comes in.

Dr. Christopher Sakezles, President and founder of SynDaver Labs, tells CAARE that the company recently started a veterinary medicine division, and they are building animal surgical simulators now. They are starting with dogs but will be moving on to high-quality simulation models for cats, horses, cows and others. The canine model, which is being rolled out at the University of Florida veterinary school this year, is anticipated to completely replace the use of live dogs there.

But why stop there? Next on the list, according to Dr. Sakezles, “will be introduce the canine model to the 50 other vet schools in the U.S. and later the 500 or so worldwide.”


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

Please donate to support CAARE’s mission to reduce animal suffering by disseminating information about the power and progress of research without animals.