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Monkey Research

- Explained -

Welcome to the 2017 annual report from Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC). Biomedical research in monkeys is still a necessity. This was concluded by the European Commission after extensive background research and in this report we proudly present our contribution to science and development of alternatives.

In this report our scientists inform you about their work with monkeys and their most important scientific findings. As you will see our work covers many different aspects, that we collaborate with (inter)national partners and that our research is often funded by (inter)national agencies. Together, this highlights that our science and standards of animal wefare are internationally recognized as high standard and scientifically relevant.

On January 1st 2017 BPRC housed 1596 animals, that is 1174 rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), 256 cynomolgus monkeys (long-tailed macaques; Macaca fascicularis), and 166 common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). On December 31st BPRC housed 1536 monkeys, 1082 rhesus macaques, 260 long-tailed macaques and 194 common marmosets.

In 2017 BPRC worked with 315 animals, 232 rhesus macaques, 42 long-tailed macaques and 41 common marmosets. Like any Dutch research institute that works with animals BPRC has reported these numbers to the NVWA. More information on the necessity of animal research is provided by SID. Read more.

The goal of BPRC is to understand life-threatening diseases, and to develop and test therapies to treat or prevent these diseases. In addition, BPRC is an expertise centre for development of the 3Rs, Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

BPRC focuses on diseases for which certain aspects cannot be studied in humans, and other alternatives than biomedical research in monkeys, are not yet available. Most (infectious) diseases start without clinical symptoms. When a patient finally seeks medical help, the actual disease-process is already ongoing and caused damage to cells and/or organs. Early disease processes can only be studied when the disease or infection is experimentally induced and controlled. We use this knowledge to develop better vaccines or medicines.

Infectious diseases like aids, influenza, malaria and tuberculosis (TB), killed 2.8 million people in the year 2017. This means every 8 seconds a person died of one of these potentially preventable diseases. In addition to infectious diseases, chronic degenerative diseases, like multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), are increasing due to ageing societies. To limit the number of people that suffer from these infections and diseases new vaccines and new drugs are needed. The development of vaccines and drugs is a long and winding road. It requires detailed information on the disease processes, and potential vaccine or drug candidates need to be tested for efficacy. Most testing is done in test tubes. However, we need to confirm safety1 and efficacy in an appropriate animal model that is comparable to the infection or disease in humans. This stage is called the preclinical phase.

1 Please note that safety in this context refers to safety in the mode of action. This is not the same as determining the batch-to-batch variation in vaccines or drugs that are already approved for human or veterinary use. Animal-free alternative methods for batch-to-batch quality control for approved vaccines or drugs are awaiting approval from regulatory agencies. BPRC does not perform batch-to-batch quality control experiments.

To increase the transparency in the use of laboratory animals in The Netherlands, the Dutch Government installed the Centrale Commissie Dierproeven (CCD). The CCD is the legal body in The Netherlands that is authorized to provide licenses. The use of animals in experiments is strictly regulated in Europe, Directive 2010/63/EU. In The Netherlands this is described in the Wet op de dierproeven. The law is in line with the principles of the 3Rs. In our institute, we actively work on the 3Rs at all levels, departments and research units. BPRC is accredited by AAALAC International. This accreditation guarantees good institutional policies, animal husbandry and welfare, veterinary care and physical BPRC plant. Read more