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Monkeys are vital in US biomedical research

A report by US scientific experts has confirmed the necessity of non-human primates (NHPs) in research and called for a national strategy to address the critical shortage of research animals.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report said research with monkeys ‘is critical to the nation’s ability to respond adequately to public health emergencies and carry out high-impact biomedical research’.

It called for the expansion of domestic breeding programmes and an end to the reliance on supplies from other countries, which are ‘unsustainable’ and undermined ‘the security of the nation’s biomedical research enterprise’.

Meanwhile, an article in Science has also highlighted the impact of the global shortage of NHP for US and European research, with EARA executive director Kirk Leech quoted as saying: “Unless a solution is found, nonhuman primate research in Europe will dwindle and even stop in certain places.”

The National Academies report has predicted that the need for NHPs is likely to increase, and that non-animal alternatives were ‘currently limited in their ability to study all the complex interactions that occur within the bodies of humans and animals’.

It then went on to examine medical breakthroughs that relied on NHP studies, such as treatments for Parkinson’s and sickle cell disease; drugs to prevent transplant rejection; and vaccines for Covid-19, Ebola, polio, and measles.


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