Refinements in husbandry, care and common procedures
We have participated in the development and publication of a detailed report, which sets out refinements in housing, husbandry and common procedures, such as capture, restraint, identification, dosing and sampling. It also contains advice on issues such as primate communication, assessing and facilitating primate wellbeing, establishing and maintaining social groups, environmental and nutritional enrichment, sourcing and quarantine. Published in Laboratory Animals the report is a key resource for scientists, animal technicians and veterinarians responsible for caring for laboratory primates and conducting procedures, as well as those involved in designing experiments and managing studies.
Additional information can also be found in the IPS International Guidelines for the Acquisition, Care and Breeding of Non-Human Primates (second edition) which are particularly useful for research using wild populations and for breeding centres.
Genetically altered non-human primates
Breakthroughs in gene editing technologies have made it feasible to create genetically altered monkey models of disease. This area of research is accelerating, particularly in China, Japan and the USA, and could lead to an increase in non-human primate use globally. The hope is that genetic models in animal species closely related to humans will significantly improve understanding of neurological diseases and validation of potential therapeutic interventions, for which there is a dire need. However, the creation and use of genetically altered non-human primates raises serious animal welfare and ethical issues, because of the large numbers of animals required, the risks from manipulating the genome, and the harms caused to the animals involved. These are summarised in a paper in the Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research, which argues for stronger oversight of this new and complex area of non-human primate research.
Reviews of non-human primate research
In June 2017, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) published a new Opinion on the need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices. The SCHEER Opinion documents scientific progress in applying all three ‘Rs’ to non-human primate research during the last decade, with recognition of the work of the NC3Rs in this area. In addition to scientific obstacles, cultural and practical barriers can inhibit uptake of available 3Rs techniques and further advancement of the 3Rs. Some solutions are provided in a paper published in Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models.
We have summarised the ethical issues involved with the use of non-human primates in research, and the ways in which these are commonly addressed under regulatory frameworks. Staff also participated in the Bateson review of 10 years of UK publicly funded primate research, and the Animal Procedures Committee review of the assessment of cumulative severity and lifetime experience in non-human primates used in neuroscience studies.