Question about Resarch

Why are primates (still) used in biomedical research?

In evolutionary terms, monkeys are very close to humans. As a consequence of this, non-human primates are often the only sort of animal that can be infected with the same viruses and parasites that cause human disease. In addition, new drugs, vaccines and other therapies are becoming very specific, with the consequence that they only work in primates. The safety and effectiveness of such drugs, vaccines and therapies need to be tested in non-human primates before they can be released for human clinical trials.

Are there alternatives to animal research?

Sometimes there are alternatives, and where they exist alternatives to the use of monkeys in research are always used. However the complexity of the problem sometimes means that the use of animals cannot be avoided. One task of the ethical committee is to confirm that alternatives are not available. BPRC also carries out research to develop alternatives. Furthermore, a research programme is in place to genetically characterize the monkeys. This makes the specific selection of monkeys for an experiment possible, and can thereby help to reduce the numbers of animals that are needed to produce significant results.

Does BPRC do cosmetics research?

No. The Dutch law on animal experiments (WOD) forbids this. BPRC only carries out research into life-threatening human diseases.

What are the most important research results?

BPRC has played an important role in the development of safe organ and bone marrow transplantation protocols. This is also true for the discovery, development and testing of vaccines for major globally important diseases such as hepatitis, AIDS (HIV), tuberculosis and malaria. Recent breakthroughs include the development of models to test new medicines for Multiple Sclerosis and tuberculosis. One important consequence of research at BPRC is that potentially “unsafe” medicines and therapies are often identified and taken out of development at an early stage.

What are the current research areas at BPRC?

BPRC undertakes biomedical research that requires experimental primate models to study the most serious human diseases. Examples are infectious diseases including malaria, AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. BPRC is also active in research to improve the success of organ transplantation. Knowledge gained in these research areas can also be of benefit to help threatened species survive in the wild.

How will the research programme of the new BPRC develop?

The basic funding makes it possible for BPRC to steer a course towards improved quality instead of quantity. The number of animal experiments is gradually being reduced and emphasis is on obtaining more information while using fewer animals. Alongside disease-oriented research programmes BPRC also puts a lot of energy into research for alternatives to animal experimentation. In addition BPRC undertakes behavioural studies (through observation of the monkeys) to see how their environment can be improved and research to help conservation biology (improvement of the situation of endangered species).

See also Research Achievements.