Christopher Sakezles never liked the idea of veterinary students using euthanized shelter animals as mock patients. The problem wasn’t just that they were once live animals, but also that the process of freezing and preserving them changed the consistency of the tissues, resulting in a less-than-authentic experience.
So Sakezles, founder of SynDaver Labs in Tampa, FL, created an alternative: a synthetic cadaver dog named Alberta, which he introduced May 31. Alberta is anatomically correct and made entirely of polymers made from water, salt, fiber and other materials that give it a realistic feel, according to the Associated Press. The company already has an order for 25 Albertas from the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine.
"This product is going to give them more of a lifelike experience with the tissue," Sakezles said during a press conference, according to the AP.
The cadavers can be customized to mimic real illnesses. During the press conference, one of its staff veterinarians cut into Alberta’s intestine and found two marbles, after which he fished a sock out of a second Alberta.
SynDaver, which also makes synthetic human cadavers, is selling the canine cadavers for $28,000 apiece. Each Alberta can undergo up to 40 different surgeries, and its parts are replaceable. The University of Florida is collaborating with the company to help refine the model patient, according to the AP.
SynDaver has raised $10 million and is seeking another $24 million via a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, according to a press release from the company. Sakezles said he initially persuaded one of the stars of "Shark Tank" to invest $3 million, but the deal fell through. If SynDaver succeeds in the crowdfunding campaign, he says, he’ll get working on a feline version of the synthetic cadaver.
Petnostics nabs $300,000 on Shark Tank for at-home pet urine test