Practical learning is crucial for vets in training: it is where they learn the bulk of their surgical skills, from basic neutering procedures to brain surgery. What prospective students may be unaware of, however, is that these skills are practised on live animals.
Whilst the practice has been declining steadily, some training facilities still run terminal labs. With its synthetic canine, Florida-based company SynDaver Labs hopes to eliminate this practice and reduce the number of animals killed in veterinary schools.
Their synthetic canine model follows the development of a synthetic human anatomy model, and is frighteningly realistic (bones, major organs and blood are included).
“The SynDaver canine is going to be a highly complex system that mimics every part of the animal and you’re going to be able to do a lot of different things,” says Dr Christopher Sakezles, founder and CEO of SynDaver Labs.
“The systems that we build, the bodies that we build, they aren’t just bodies by appearance: they incorporate all of the organ systems made from materials that mimic organ systems properly: they’re profuse, they breathe, they bleed.”
With the aim of suppling the model to veterinary schools around the world, SynDaver has turned to crowdfunding.
The company is seeking US$24 million (AU$33 million) to build 1,000 models (20 for each of the 49 accredited veterinary colleges around the world), putting the price at around US$24,000 (AU$33,000) per dog. A not-so hefty fee when you consider the several-hundred man-hours committed to making each model.
And its ability to save tens of thousands of animals.
The canine model is compatible with all imaging systems and facilitates all known surgical techniques, allowing students to refine their practical skills without needlessly using live animals.