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Almost every major medical advance during the last century has been made possible through research in animals. Because of their close anatomical, physiological and behavioral similarity to humans, nonhuman primates provide an indispensable bridge between basic laboratory studies and human clinical use. Society is currently facing enormous medical challenges that include AIDS, cancer, drug addiction, neuropsychiatric illnesses, neurodegenerative disorders, and cardiovascular diseases for which nonhuman primates provide the best models and the best hope for improved treatment. Here are some examples of important medical accomplishments made possible by research with nonhuman primates at NEPRC.

  • First unambiguous evidence that AIDS is caused by a virus.
  • Discovery of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) and development of first animal model of AIDS.
  • Original demonstration that vaccine protection against AIDS is theoretically possible.
  • Discovery that a gene product of the AIDS virus activates lymphocytes necessary for disease progression.
  • Identification of therapeutic genes that can prevent infection of cells by the AIDS virus.
  • First demonstration that protective genes introduced into blood stem cells can block HIV or SIV infection.
  • Discovery of primitive blood stem cells lacking CD34 and their implications for bone marrow transplantation
  • Isolation of type-D retroviruses as major causes of illness and death in macaques.
  • Discovery of the oncogenic herpesvirus, Herpesvirus saimiri.
  • Discovery of a nonhuman primate virus closely related to the human Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus.
  • First nonhuman primate models of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Evidence leading to the use of hydroxyurea to treat sickle cell anemia.
  • Discovery of stunned myocardium and its role in myocardial ischemia.
  • Discovery of cellular organization and critical period for development of the visual cortex.
  • First unambiguous evidence for the addictive properties of nicotine.
  • Identification of major risk factors in self-injurious behavior.
  • First animal model for progressive neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease.
  • Development of improved brain imaging techniques for early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
  • Development of novel cellular and pharmacological strategies for treatment of Parkinson's disease.
  • First survey of distribution of cocaine binding sites in primate brain.
  • Identification of the dopamine transporter as a principal target for cocaine in the brain.
  • First nonhuman primate model of drug relapse.
  • Development of novel drug classes to treat cocaine addiction and other brain dopamine disorders.

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