About 64 percent of NIH-funded researchers have had trouble getting primates for their work
By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, May 5, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The United States needs to address a shortage of research monkeys by expanding breeding programs while also developing alternatives to monkey testing, an expert panel said in a report released Thursday. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine panel focused on research funded by the National Institutes of Health.
“If the U.S. is to produce high-impact biomedical research and have a research infrastructure capable of responding to the next public health crisis, now is the time to strengthen the systems we need for nonhuman primate research,” committee chairman Kenneth Ramos, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for health services at Texas A&M University, said in a news release announcing the new report.
Although the United States funds colonies of nonhuman primates at national centers, it also relies on imported primates raised for research. Some of those primates historically have come from China, but in 2020, that country stopped exporting research monkeys, the Associated Press reported, leading to a 20 percent drop in imports of a particular species, cynomolgus macaques. That was also when primates were especially needed for COVID-19 studies.
Supplies were also impacted when the United States filed charges to stop a Cambodian smuggling ring that was accused of sending endangered wild monkeys for research, the AP reported.
Monkeys are helpful in lifesaving research, especially in infectious disease and neuroscience, because of their similarities to people. Still, using them is also controversial. The NIH does not use humans’ closest relatives, chimpanzees, in invasive research any longer because of that controversy, the AP reported.
According to the report, about 64 percent of NIH-funded researchers have had trouble getting primates for their work.
Copyright © 2023 HealthDay. All rights reserved.