Animal testing is a much-maligned practice in the development of medicines and cosmetics, but many companies are hanging on to lab mice because they lack an adequate alternative. But now, researchers at the Human Brain Project have developed a simulated mouse that can help us learn the results of animal testing without actually harming any living creatures. This virtual mouse could help save hundreds of thousands of rodent lives, specifically by replacing live mice in medical testing arenas.

The key to replacing a live mouse with a virtual one is all in the neurons. The research team has successfully mapped 200,000 neurons in the brain to the corresponding physical points on the body. With over 75 million neurons in the mouse brain, there is a lot of work left to do, but the team is encouraged by their progress to this point.

Related: India bans import of all cosmetics tested on animals

It will take some time for the team to complete their virtual mouse computer model, but once it’s ready, they’ll share it with the scientific community around the world. The researchers actually plan to release an initial version of their software as early as next month. The development of the virtual mouse brain, along with other technological advancements like 3D-printed human cells, could lead to the end of animal testing forever.

Via Treehugger

Images via Shutterstock (1, 2)