Beijing  - Experimental drugs will be used on farms of artificial humans as a replacement for live animal testing within three years, experts claim.

Smartphone-sized microchips replicating human lungs, livers and other organs are being used to test the body’s reaction to new drugs. They are branded as ‘human on a chip’ and developers hope to create ‘human farms’ to replace the controversial technique of live animal testing.

Chips emulating two and four organ systems are already being used, with future versions expected to extend to replicate all the vital functioning organs. Across the world, more than 100million animals are controversially used every year to test chemicals, food and drugs before they hit the market.

Uwe Marx, a Berlin-based tissue engineer for developers TissUse, said the development of a ‘10 organ chip’ was expected within three years in a move that could ‘revolutionise drug development’. Mr Marx said: ‘In the future, it will be possible, for example, to significantly reduce the number of animals used in pharmaceutical research and to substitute current alternative methods to animal testing.’

If their system was approved, he said it would ‘close down most of the animal-testing laboratories worldwide’, according to the Sunday Times. Speaking at the World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Prague, the Times reported Mr Marx as saying he hoped to create ‘human farms made up of hundreds of the machines’.

The technology bears similarities to the 1999 science fiction movie The Matrix, in which humans are kept in ‘farms’ in order to harvest energy from their bodies

Last year an EU ban on the sale of cosmetics developed through animal testing came into force. However, the number of scientific animal experiments carried out in the UK is growing. Home Office statistics show that 4.11million experiments were carried out in university, charity and commercial labs in 2012 - an 8 per cent jump on the previous year. It was the highest number of scientific animal experiments conducted since 1982 and came three years after the Coalition pledged in its programme for government to ‘work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research’.