The company was founded in 2004 to produce synthetic human body parts for the medical device industry, replacing live animals, cadavers, and human patients in device studies, clinical trials, and surgical simulation. Different configurations of SynDaver’s water, salt, and fiber-based material can mimic over 100 types of tissue. The company can build anatomical structures like a custom femoral artery or trachea, and can incorporate mechanical bodily functions like a beating heart.
The firm’s Synthetic Human has generated the most hype, however. It’s available in five configurations: an Anatomy Model that includes all of the major skeletal, muscular, and cartilaginous structures present in typical human anatomy; a Mortuary Model with modifications to fit the needs of the mortuary science field; a Musculoskeletal Model with all major skeletal and muscular structures; a Patient Model with an open-source physiology engine that controls all aspects of synthetic biology in addition to body motions; and a Surgical Model, an elaborate and sophisticated full-body surgical simulator with complete and functional musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and nervous systems.
Initially, SynDaver had intended its Synthetic Human to aid medical device development for OEMs looking for low-risk preclinical testing. It was the closest to in-vivo testing as one could get without using an actual human body, but there was some concern about the tested device’s translation from a near-human to a live one.
Instead, demand for the company’s synthetic cadavers came mostly as medical training tools for surgery or for teaching anatomy. The former was particularly of interest because of the company’s line of human infant models—infant cadavers are illegal to obtain, making neonatal surgery training a difficult task. Aspiring veterinarians can also avail themselves of SynDaver’s Synthetic Canine. (Dog lovers can rejoice in knowing this will result in thousands of animals saved as it’s distributed.)
In early July, SynDaver announced a prototype Synthetic Human with the express purpose of vehicle safety testing. The special version is already in use by a major (though confidential) Detroit company to monitor the body’s response to the effects of extreme vibration and noise on the heart and lungs. Another of the nation’s largest vehicle manufacturers (also undisclosed) has also reached out to SynDaver for testing. The next-generation Synthetic Human is an enormous step up from traditional crash test dummies, which only offer the body’s visible mechanical response to a crash. SynDaver’s synthetic tissue lets sensors like Doppler radar penetrate and monitor blood flow and lung inflation in a way plastic bodies never could.
“This version of our Synthetic Human has a heart that actually beats, contracts, and forces blood through the vasculature system in a self-contained environment,” Dr. Christopher Sakezles, founder of SynDaver Labs, said in a company statement detailing the new prototypes. “This is just the beginning of what our Synthetic Humans can be used for, but eventually we hope all automobile manufacturers will rely on our technology to see how destructive crashes will affect the body.”
Sakezles believes the upgraded Synthetic Humans would be integral to companies like Apple, Google, and Tesla that are working to develop driverless automobiles. Although none of these tech giants have shown interest yet, he expects they will recognize the worth of using the closest thing to a living human for crash testing. Apple, Google, and Microsoft already use SynDaver’s technology for other applications.
“Our Synthetic Humans can be modified to capture data around any testing protocol and specification needed,” Sakezles explained. “Their state-of-the-art autonomous vehicles deserve the most technologically advanced crash test Synthetic Human, and we’re capable of providing them.”