athenaI know that there are crash test dummies when it comes to testing out the safety of a production vehicle, but what happens when it comes to toxicity tests for humans? Certainly it would cross all boundaries to wilfully administer toxic stuff to an unknowing human test subject, so why not settle for a “human desktop” instead? This is what the ATHENA (Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer) project is all about, where it is a smaller version of a human body that sits comfortably on a desk.

The ATHENA (Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer) project is funded by the U. S. military’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), where $19 million of the U.S. defense budget will be redirected to project ATHENA over the course of the next half decade. The result? A lung that breathes, a heart that pumps, a liver that metabolizes and a kidney that excretes, where all of these will be connected via a tubing infrastructure that is not too different from how our blood vessels connect our organs.

With ATHENA, at least no cute and fuzzy lab bunnies (or other animals) will have to undergo any kind of unwanted and unwarranted testing, and neither do humans have to be subject to a similar role. [Press Release]

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