Animals in Science / Alternatives

to Animals: 2013 Developments

Click here for 2014's developments in alternatives.

3D liver culture models more predictive and insightful according to study
Dec. 16, 2013

Zyoxel, maker of in vitro 3D liver models for drug discovery and drug testing, has announced preliminary successful results from a testing of its LiverChip platform for drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic studies.

The study confirmed LiverChip does not have the problem of non-specific drug binding, and the results exhibited good reproducibility.

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Work to begin on new in vitro liver testing
Dec. 9, 2013

The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences and Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) announced they will develop predictive in vitro screening assays for chemical, environmental, and pharmaceutical toxicology assessments that utilize human, stem cell-derived liver cells.

It is expected the cells will provide a consistent, reproducible, and limitless source of liver tissue that reflects native liver function and offer significant improvement over existing models. The project should enable toxicity testing and risk assessments based solely on in vitro test results, without progressing to toxicity studies in animals.

These tests will increase the speed that new drugs can be brought to market, and will also help assess the backlog of thousands of chemicals for which there is very limited toxicity test data.

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Human stem cells predict efficacy of Alzheimer drugs
Dec. 6, 2013

Why do certain Alzheimer medications work in animal models but not in clinical trials in humans? A research team from the University of Bonn and the biomedical enterprise LIFE & BRAIN GmbH has been able to show that results of established test methods with animal models and cell lines used up until now can hardly be translated to the processes in the human brain. Drug testing should therefore be conducted with human nerve cells, conclude the scientists.

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BASF Receives 2013 Animal Protection Research Prize for work in developing and implementing strategies for toxicity testing without animal experimentation
Dec. 2, 2013

BASF research scientists have developed completely animal testing-free methods and strategies that examine substances for skin sensitization, eye irritation and skin irritation. The predictive accuracies are at least as good as those provided by animal studies. “Not only did we develop these methods, we also validated them, which allows us to use them in our routine testing now,” said Dr. Robert Landsiedel, head of the Short-Term Toxicology Unit at BASF.

“Research contributes greatly to restricting animal experimentation to a minimum. Our goal is to replace as many animal tests as possible by alternative methods,” Bleser explained.

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NeuroBioBank gives researchers one-stop access to post-mortem brains
Dec. 2, 2013

To expedite research on brain disorders, the National Institutes of Health is shifting from a limited funding role to coordinating a Web-based resource for sharing post-mortem brain tissue. Under a NIH NeuroBioBank initiative, five brain banks will begin collaborating in a tissue sharing network for the neuroscience community.

“Instead of having to seek out brain tissue needed for a study from scattered repositories, researchers will have one-stop access to the specimens they need,” explained Thomas Insel, M.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of three NIH institutes underwriting the project.

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Toxicity modelling could replace 'trial and error' animal testing
Nov. 21, 2013

A team of researchers from a Liverpool university has developed a new computational model which could potentially predict the toxicity of cosmetics ingredients better than "trial-and-error" animal testing.

The QSAR and modeling group at Liverpool St John Moore’s University created the chemistry-based system to anticipate how damaging a substance could be to particular areas of the body, using data taken from human participants. 

The team is using its respiratory research and skin sensitivity research, first published in the Journal of Chemistry and Toxicology in 2009, in an attempt to move beyond traditional testing to a more complete understanding of the underlying systems involved in toxicity.

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3 Innovations That Can Help End Animal Testing

Nov. 19, 2013

Every year millions of animals are used in biomedical research experiments that not only cause unnecessary suffering for them, but don’t accurately predict results in humans and may cause us to miss cures that would actually work.

Fortunately, many researchers have taken a hard look at the failures of using animal models and have focused their efforts on finding alternatives, which has led to a few recent breakthroughs that could help us move on to innovative and cutting-edge scientific methods that don’t involve harming other species in our search for health and cures.

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Futuristic “Human-on-Chip” Models Will Help Drug Development
Nov. 19, 2013

The pharmaceutical industry needs better scientific models for testing drugs before they get to the proving ground of human clinical trials. Current lab dish models and animal testing models are time-consuming, expensive and chronically unable to predict which drugs are going to work in clinical trials. The industry is crying out for new modes of early testing that can shorten the timelines, reduce the cost and increase the odds of success in clinical trials.

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Maryland scientific team's breakthrough could end animal testing

Nov. 9, 2013

Testing on animals could be history by the end of the decade, thanks to potentially breakthrough science by a team looking for ways to treat exposure to chemical weapons inside the US. Army Lab at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The team is using adult stem cells that can grow into cells from just about any of the body's organs, which they believe will allow them to more accurately and more quickly test effects of a toxin or a drug--potentially any substance--on a person, eliminating the need for animal subjects.

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3D-printed human cells could replace animal testing

Nov. 7, 2013

3D-printed human cells could replace the need for animal testing of new drugs within five years, according to a pioneering bio-printing expert at the 3D Printshow in London, which opens today.

"It lends itself strongly to replace animal testing," said bioengineering PhD student Alan Faulkner-Jones of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. "If it gets to be as accurate as it should be, there would be no need to test on animals."

Using a bio-printer made from a hacked MakerBot printer, Faulkner-Jones is demonstrating how human stem cells can be successfully printed to create micro-tissues and micro-organs that can be used to test drugs.

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Nottingham researchers to develop improved cell model of drug uptake
Oct. 24, 2013

Researchers at the UK’s University of Nottingham are embarking on new work to improve cell-based models of drug uptake in the gut. The research will build on past models of drug uptake which were unable to accurately model the interactions of larger molecules. Researchers plan to improve the model by using a more realistic substrate on which to grow cells of the stomach lining, as well as including cells responsible for mucus production and transportation of nanoparticles.

If successful, according to researchers it will produce a “comprehensive and accurate model for studying the uptake of all drugs and nanoparticles” and have the potential to “reduce the need for animal studies in both the pharmaceutical industry and for toxicology studies on nanoparticles.”

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Harvard and AstraZeneca partner to replace animal testing with 'organs-on-chips'
Oct. 21, 2013

Drug development company AstraZeneca has partnered with Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to improve its current methods of human drug development. Scientists from the two organizations will use organ-on-chip technology, developed by the Wyss Institute, to create animal versions of the chips. These animal versions will be used along human models to assess the safety of new drugs.

Big Pharma has been reducing its spending on research and development, particularly in the area of preclinical research. Because of this, methods of testing drugs more effectively and cost-efficiently are of increasing importance. The use of these organs-on-chips has the potential “to streamline the drug development process and more effectively predict safety of drugs and chemicals in humans,” Dr. Don Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute.

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Working towards an animal-testing-free future
Oct. 8, 2013

In an effort to improve toxicology testing, the EU-funded program NOTOX has been exploring the effects of certain compounds on human liver cells. This research will be used to create a complex computer model that can replicate the processes that occur when the human liver is exposed to toxic substances.

The research is timely, as the EU banned marketing cosmetics and household products that are tested on animals earlier this year. NOTOX notes that in the near future, “the use of living organisms to test the safety of certain substances will simply no longer be needed.”

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Research partnership seeks to validate use of human liver tissue culture in drug development
Oct. 1, 2013

Hurel Corporation, a developer of pre-clinical drug testing methods based on artificial tissues, has entered into a collaboration with healthcare solutions developer Sanofi. The goal of the partnership will be to validate the use of Hurel’s cell-based models for pre-clinical drug development. The first model to be tested is “HµrelHuman,” a 3D liver tissue cultured from human liver cells, which will be used to assess both the toxicity of new drugs and the ways in which they are metabolized. Future projects also include validating a construct which simulates the human circulatory system.

Validating these model systems will allow drug development to occur more rapidly and without the use of animals. “We are confident that Hurel’s technology constitutes the kind of game-changing translational tool for which both drug developers and regulators have been waiting,” said Hurel CEO Robert Freedman. 

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Replacing animal testing with accurate in vitro innovations
Sept. 30, 2013

A five-year, EU-funded project resulted in developing a successful method to identify compounds causing neurotoxicity during human development. The in vitro test uses human stem cells, which replicate the development of the human central nervous system.

Avoiding compounds causing reproductive toxicity is extremely important to human health. However, testing for chemicals that cause this type of toxicity is notoriously challenging. Hundreds of animals are currently used to test just one compound. For this reason, the need for in vitro, non-animal alternatives is high. This new development benefits animals, but also yields more accurate, efficient, and economical testing methods.

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Animal testing could be reduced with new research
Technology created to mimic standard human muscular functions
Sept. 25, 2013

A team of researchers from UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center have shown that it is cutting edge in developing state-of-the-art technology that could remove human and animals as test subjects in scientific experiments. The team, led by chemistry, biomedical science and electrical engineering professor James Hickman, has developed a neuromuscular junction mimic. This allows researchers to monitor muscular function and its response to different treatments without using human or animal subjects.

Technology of this nature will allow researchers to not only remove animals from their testing but it will also allow pharmaceutical companies to be able to produce treatments faster and more accurately, Hickman said.

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Tiny 3D-printed organs could enable better drug testing
Sept. 16, 2013

Miniature human organs made by 3D printing could create a "body on a chip" that enables better drug testing. That futuristic idea has become a new bioprinting project backed by $24 million from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The 2-inch "body on a chip" would represent a realistic testing ground for understanding how the human body might react to dangerous diseases, chemical warfare agents and new drugs intended to defend against biological or chemical attacks. Such technology could speed up drug development by replacing less-ideal animal testing or the simpler testing done on human cells in petri dishes and perhaps save millions or even billions of dollars from being wasted on dead-end drug candidates that fail in human clinical trials.

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Animal testing cut with 3D cancer device
Sept. 11, 2013

A new laboratory device that creates three dimensional cancer tumours can reduce animal testing by almost a third, scientists say. The technology is part of a growing movement away from using animals to screen drugs.

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Miniature brains grown in test tubes – a new path for neuroscience?
Aug. 28, 2013

Scientists have grown miniature human brains in test tubes, creating a "tool" that will allow them to watch how the organs develop in the womb and, they hope, increase their understanding of neurological and mental problems.

The organoids are also expected to be useful in the development and testing of drugs. At present this is done using laboratory animals or isolated human cells; the new organoids could allow pharmacologists to test drugs in more human-like settings.

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Fake Organs Could Replace Lab Animals (video)
Aug. 20, 2013

'Organs on chips' developed by researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute may one day be used to replace lab animals – and accelerate drug testing.

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A team of Japanese scientists announce they have developed a form of artificial corneal tissue which can be used in the place of cosmetics testing on animals.
Aug. 15, 2013

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Harvard's Wyss Institute to use 'organ-on-a-chip' microdevices to evaluate therapies for lethal radiation exposure
Aug. 13, 2013

FDA funds research that will investigate potential of human organs-on-chips to discover new radiation countermeasures; aims to improve national ability to respond to nuclear radiation incidents.

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A possible future for cancer research without animal testing
Aug. 8, 2013

JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, has published two new methods for scientists to study and treat tumor growth. The methods introduce a lab-born, human tissue structure with replicated human biochemistry - offering scientists the opportunity to grow, observe, and ultimately learn how to treat biopsied human tumor cells.

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Cancer Research Implies Future for Personalized Medicine, Reduction in Animal Testing
Aug. 6, 2013

The methods introduce a lab-born, human tissue structure with replicated human biochemistry – offering scientists the opportunity to grow, observe, and ultimately learn how to treat biopsied human tumor cells.

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Industry scientist discusses non-animal, statistical approach to safety testing
July, 2013

Manufacturers test cosmetics, household cleaners, and other chemical products before marketing, to identify any hazards they might present. One of those hazards is skin sensitization, or the potential for a product to cause an allergic skin reaction. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) is studying new methods to test substances for skin sensitization hazards, and in May hosted a visit from a leading industry scientist to collaborate on development of a promising new testing approach.

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Funding for animal testing alternatives unveiled
Research into replacing and reducing animal use in scientific experiments is to benefit from £4.8 million in public investment in 2013-14
July 31, 2013

The UK’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) has allocated 20 grants to universities, specialist institutes and small-to-medium-sized enterprises to develop new testing methods, infrastructure and technologies.

Awards include the development of a new way to study tuberculosis infection by using human cells, by Liku Tezera at the University of Southampton, and a project to develop an alternative method for anti-cancer drug development led by Ian MacKenzie, professor of stem cell science at Queen Mary, University of London.

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Medicyte reaches a milestone in reducing animal tests.
July 18, 2013

The bioreactor is an artificial liver that may be more predictive for human liver toxicity and liver metabolism of drugs than current in vitro and animal models.

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Anatomy expert is creating digital models to train surgical students
July 18, 2013

An anatomy expert at Iowa State University is developing digital tools that could help surgical students gain nearly lifelike experience with a scalpel without having to cut into cadavers or living subjects.

Diana Peterson, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences in ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine, has high hopes for a project that could lead to realistic surgical training in a virtual world. Peterson envisions a three-dimensional virtual reality program that simulates both human and animal anatomy and recreates the surgical experience better than almost any existing training method short of the real thing.

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Scientists 'switch off' Down's syndrome
July 18, 2013

For the first time, scientists have switched off a Down's syndrome chromosome, raising hope for possible treatment of the genetic disorder characterised by cognitive impairment.

Scientists say the in vitro discovery opens new avenues for future chromosome therapy.

Researchers at The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in US established that a naturally occurring X chromosome "off switch" can be rerouted to neutralise the extra chromosome responsible for trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.

The discovery provides the first evidence that the underlying genetic defect responsible for Down syndrome can be suppressed in cells in culture (in vitro).

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Greiner Bio-One launches artificial skin to replace animal testing
July 15, 2013

Greiner Bio-One has announced the launch of ThinCert cell culture inserts, an artificial skin offering for use in life science research and product testing applications.

These perfectly replicated skin models incorporate human skin cells and feature the same properties and functions as normal human skin, meaning they react even more authentically than animal skin to cosmetics in testing.

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Industry scientist discusses statistical approach to safety testing
July 1, 2013


The integrated testing strategy developed by Jaworska and colleagues at Procter and Gamble provides an approach for analyzing information from non-animal tests and other information about a test substance, such as chemical structure and solubility. The analysis considers all the available relevant information about a substance and produces a numerical probability that the substance is a sensitizer. This probability could potentially be used to make decisions about whether substances require hazard labeling, without requiring animal testing.

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MatTek In Vitro Life Science Laboratories now commercially producing EpiOcular tissue model for eye testing

June 27, 2013


"The reconstructed human cornea-like EpiOcular tissues can be used for in vitro assessment of eye irritation potential of substances and formulations,” said Dr. Helena Kandarova, Director of MatTek IVLSL. “Moreover, the EpiOcular Eye Irritation Test has been pre-validated by COLIPA, now Cosmetics Europe, and is in the final stages of a validation process driven by Cosmetics Europe and ECVAM,” she said.

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Genomic assay as an alternative to animal testing
June 14, 2013

The method developed by the group in Lund is based on human cells grown in a laboratory. The cells are exposed to a chemical and then parts of their genetic content are filtered out and transferred to a microchip.

"Using the chip, we can then read which genes reacted to the chemical and how they reacted. This provides a 'signature' of gene expression that shows whether the substance is allergenic", explains Malin Lindstedt.

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Novel Skin Test Could Replace Animal Testing for Drugs and Cosmetics
May 30, 2013

A new medical technology uses human tissue samples to predict how skin will react to drugs, makeup, and chemicals.

The testing technique, called Skimune, involves taking blood and skin tissue samples from human donors and culturing, or growing, them in the lab.

The substance being tested is mixed with the donor’s immune cells, activating them to respond in the way they would inside the body. The activated cells are then exposed to the same donor’s skin cells.

By observing how the skin sample reacts to its own immune cells, researchers can get a good idea of whether the substance would cause an allergic reaction in the person’s skin.

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Pharma research: Computer models more accurate than animal trials
Expert systems estimate drug uptake in humans (bioavailability) more precisely than animal experiments
May 16, 2013


The research, carried out by PharmaInformatic, has shown that oral bioavailability in animals is inconsistent with the values reported for humans. For many drugs large differences in oral bioavailability were found between humans and animals.

Based on PACT-F, computational models were developed to predict oral bioavailability. The final expert system, called IMPACT-F, calculates human oral bioavailability much more
precisely compared to animal trials.

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BASF-Promega collaboration develops non-animal skin reaction test
Chemicals company BASF has teamed up with life sciences company Promega to jointly develop an alternative method to animal testing to detect allergic reactions in the skin to certain substances
April 16, 2013

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Lund University develops test alternatives thanks to unique software
Swedish researchers at Lund University have developed various in vitro test strategies to replace animal testing when determining skin allergens, thanks to a special special gene expression analysis software
April 10, 2013

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Scientists are creating test-tube versions of the human immune system to determine how effective various vaccines are in preventing diseases
April 8, 2013

In their cold, sterile labs near Orlando, some local scientists are creating a hot commodity — biological replicas of the human immune system — that could play a role in saving the planet from a pandemic.

That's one of the goals, at least, of the work at Sanofi Pasteur VaxDesign Corp., the Central Florida unit of a French pharmaceutical giant. Scientists are creating test-tube versions of the human immune system to determine how effective various vaccines are in preventing diseases such as influenza, yellow fever and tuberculosis.

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3-D Stem Cell Culture Technique Developed to Better Understand Alzheimer's Disease
April 2, 2013

A team of researchers at The New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute led by Scott Noggle, PhD, Director of the NYSCF Laboratory and the NYSCF -- Charles Evans Senior Research Fellow for Alzheimer's Disease, and Michael W. Nestor, PhD, a NYSCF Postdoctoral Research Fellow, has developed a technique to produce three-dimensional cultures of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells called embryoid bodies, amenable to live cell imaging and to electrical activity measurement.

As reported in their Stem Cell Research study, these cell aggregates enable scientists to both model and to study diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

The NYSCF Alzheimer's disease research team aims to better understand and to find treatments to this disease through stem cell research. For such disorders in which neurons misfire or degenerate, the NYSCF team creates "disease in a dish" models by reprogramming patients' skin and or blood samples into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that can become neurons and the other brain cells affected in the diseases.

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IBN creates unlimited source of human kidney cells
Feb. 21, 2013

Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have successfully generated human kidney cells from human embryonic stem cells in vitro ("Human embryonic stem cells differentiate into functional renal proximal tubular–like cells"). Specifically, they produced the renal cells under artificial conditions in the lab without using animals or organs. This has not been possible until now.

According to IBN Executive Director, Professor Jackie Y. Ying, “This discovery has wide-reaching implications for in vitro toxicology, drug screening, disease models and regenerative medicine. In particular, we are interested in applying our technology to develop predictive in vitro drug testing and renal toxicity models as alternatives to animal testing.”

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Replacement of animal testing: EURL ECVAM releases its strategy for skin sensitisation hazard identification and classification
Jan. 25, 2013

The European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) has just released its strategy on how to achieve an animal-free solution for assessing chemicals for skin sensitisation.

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Will Big Data DNA analysis herald new era in medicine?
Jan. 17, 2013


In December 2012, the government announced a big data plan for perhaps our most intimate of data, the DNA read-out of 100,000 people with rare diseases and cancer.


So we could be more confident that our personal DNA read-out can be checked against those trends and might warn us we are more at risk of certain diseases, and do something about it like changing our lifestyle of getting screened.

We might also be able to avoid drugs known to be toxic in people that carry a similar genetic make-up to our own.

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ETH Zurich: Researchers develop alternative to animal testing for Botox production
Jan. 16, 2013

A new animal- and cell-free method has been developed to measure the toxic activity of Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), e.g. Botox. The invention will avoid the use of mouse LD50 tests for toxicity testing, e.g. in BoNT-containing pharmaceutical products such as Botox.

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World's first vet-learning simulation center uses robo-pets
Jan. 4, 2013

What started in 2010 with the world's first robotic dog simulator for veterinary training has evolved into the opening of a new simulation center at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine. Its new, advanced pet simulators are allowing the simulation learning model to spread throughout the veterinary curriculum and paving the way for other institutions to follow suit.

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Click here for 2012's developments in alternatives.