Research Monkey Scarcity Undermines US Readiness, Panel Says
There’s a scarcity of monkeys obtainable for medical analysis and the U.S. ought to broaden its breeding applications moderately than depend on worldwide suppliers to unravel it, an influential scientific advisory panel mentioned Thursday.
Studies utilizing nonhuman primates, particularly monkeys, have been important to lifesaving medical advances – together with creating vaccines towards COVID-19 – due to their similarities to folks. The U.S. funds colonies at nationwide primate facilities however provides have been tight and extra animals have been repeatedly imported even earlier than the pandemic.
Then China, as soon as a number one provider, ended exports of analysis monkeys in 2020, as scientists in every single place wanted extra for coronavirus research. And final fall, the U.S. filed charges to stop a Cambodian smuggling ring accused of delivery endangered wild monkeys rather than these bred for analysis, additional constraining provides.
Thursday’s report examined solely analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health, deemed key to responding to public well being emergencies — not drug firm or different publicly or privately funded analysis with monkeys.
The nation’s preparedness is undermined by having to rely on imports of those animals, that are particularly necessary for infectious illness analysis and neuroscience, mentioned a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Highlighting that vulnerability, the U.S. skilled a 20% drop in imports of 1 species, cynomolgus macaques, when China out of the blue stopped delivery.
The panel additionally known as for extra growth of options to monkey testing — and within the meantime urged higher scientific collaboration to make the perfect use of every analysis animal.
“If the U.S. is to supply high-impact biomedical analysis and have a analysis infrastructure able to responding to the subsequent public well being disaster, now could be the time to strengthen the techniques we want for nonhuman primate analysis,” mentioned committee chairman Dr. Kenneth Ramos of Texas A&M University.
Use of animals in biomedical analysis, particularly nonhuman primates, is controversial. Under strain, the NIH already retired chimpanzees, people’ closest relations, from invasive analysis however has maintained there’s nonetheless want for monkeys. Nonhuman primates signify 0.5% of all of the animals utilized in biomedical analysis within the U.S., the report mentioned.
In a survey of NIH-supported researchers, the National Academies panel discovered 64% reported challenges in getting nonhuman primates required for his or her work, together with elevated wait occasions and price. In 2021, the National Primate Research Centers had such a scarcity of monkeys by no means utilized in earlier research that it couldn’t meet two-thirds of researcher requests, the report mentioned.
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