Research

Research

Other Diseases

Alzheimer’s

Research has shown that “neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are uniquely human,” and that nonhuman primates like chimpanzees “do not become demented, nor do they have some of the other brain lesions typical of Alzheimer’s disease.” (1) In fact, one potential vaccine that was “well-tolerated in monkeys” ended up causing “strokes and inflammation of the central nervous system in humans.” (2) As well, protein plaques commonly found in Alzheimer’s patient brains are “structurally distinct in human vs. nonhuman primates.” (3) Citing research from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, a 2008 paper stated that “age-related neurodegenerative diseases [are]…seldom, if ever…fully manifested in nonhuman species under natural conditions.” (4) Despite these findings, Alzheimer’s research involving the use of chimpanzees still continues today.

Federally funded Alzheimer’s research grants* involving chimpanzees

Researcher:

James Herndon

Grant No.

5P01AG026423-03

Project:

Evolution of Aging and Dementia in Female Primates

Institution:

Emory University

Project runs:

April 15, 2007–March 31, 2012 (2009)

Funding:

Unavailable

 

Researcher:

James Herndon

Grant No.

5P01AG026423-03000109

Project:

COGNITIVE AND MOTORIC AGING

Institution:

Emory University

Project runs:

2009

Funding:

Unavailable

 

Researcher:

Todd Preuss

Grant No.

5P01AG026423-03000309

Project:

BRAIN AGING

Institution:

Emory University

Project runs:

2009

Funding:

Unavailable

 

Researcher:

Lisa Parr

Grant No.

5R01MH068791-05

Project:

Neuropsychology of primate social cognition

Institution:

Emory University

Project runs:

April 1, 2004–March 9, 2009 (2008)

Funding:

Unavailable

Malaria

Most common in Africa and Southeast Asia, malaria is a disease caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. (5) Currently, there is no vaccine against malaria. Therefore chimpanzees are often used in the development and testing of vaccines, which can involve injecting chimpanzees with different components of a vaccine in order to have them produce monoclonal antibodies. (6)

Federally funded malaria research grants involving chimpanzees

Researcher:

Rachel Schneerson

Grant No.

1Z01HD008779-0408

Project:

Peptide-Protein Conjugate Vaccines

Institution:

EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH & HUMAN

Project runs:

2008

Funding:

Unavailable

 

Researcher:

Jyotsna S, Shah

Grant No.

2R44AI056785-02

Project:

Plasmodium Genus and P. falciparum—P. vivax FISH Assays

Institution:

ID FISH TECHNOLOGY, INC.

Project runs:

July 1, 2003–February 28, 2010

Funding:

$1,614,581 (for 2008 and 2009)

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The cause of MS is unknown and its symptoms can range from mild muscle weakness to paralysis. (7) Some scientists believe that MS is caused by a virus and starting in the 1970’s, research attempts were made to transmit MS to baby chimpanzees through both intranasal and intracerebral inoculations. One experiment in 1976 inoculated five newborn chimpanzees with brain cells from two MS patients. Among other symptoms, two of the newborns developed reoccurring seizures. Three died from pneumonia. (8) This experiment was repeated on another newborn chimpanzee in 1979. (9)  The justification for using infant chimpanzees and monkeys is that they are presumably more susceptible to infectious agents than older animals. 

In 2002, another researcher, Howard Lipton, MD, wanted to again try and transmit MS to nonhuman primates by taking cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissue from afflicted human patients and injecting it intracerebrally into baby chimpanzees and squirrel monkeys (10). Lipton’s proposal indicated that the full cost of the research project would be over $1.5 million before its completion in 2007. From 2002 to 2006, NIH granted a total of $1,634,302 for the project.

Researcher:

Howard L. Lipton

Grant No.

5R01NS042890-06

Project:

Identifying a viral cause of Multiple Sclerosis

Institution:

University of Illinois at Chicago

Project runs:

June 1, 2002–May 31, 2007

Funding:

$384,234 (for 2006)

 

Under general anesthesia, the experiment called for the chimpanzees and squirrel monkeys to be inoculated through the skull into the right frontal lobe of the brain with cerebrospinal fluid obtained from MS patients. Afterwards, they would be subjected to highly invasive tests every six months to observe for any signs of neurological disease.

It is not clear why Lipton believed he would be able to demonstrate an infectious agent is involved with multiple sclerosis when none has been demonstrated to date using chimpanzees and other animals. (11)

2008 Update: Through personal correspondence, we have received information that due to great difficulty in obtaining the necessary specimens from human patients with multiple sclerosis, Dr. Lipton apparently did not go forward with this research experiment and did not inoculate chimpanzees with the disease. However, it appears that he may have continued this research using squirrel monkeys instead, as his grant continued to receive federal funding through 2006.

* All grant information is from the Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects (CRISP) database.


Sources

(1) Alzheimers Disease—Yerkes Researchers Closer to Why Humans Develop It. (Mar. 30, 2009). Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University; HealthNewsDigest.com.

(2) Bailey, Jarrod. (Sept. 2006) Non-Human Primates in Medical Research: Sensible or Dispensable?

(3) Why Chimps, Monkeys Don’t Develop Alzheimer’s. (May 25, 2009). ABC News.

(4) RF Rosen, AS Farberg, M Gearing, J Dooyema, PM Long, DC Anderson, J Davis-Turak, G Coppola, DH Geschwind, JF Pare, TQ Duong, WD Hopkins, TM Preuss, and LC Walker. (2008). Tauopathy with paired helical filaments in an aged chimpanzee. Journal of Comp Neurol, July 20; 509(3): 259-70.

(5) Malaria Vaccine Trials Begin Using ‘Chimpanzee Virus’. (Feb. 1, 2008). ScienceDaily.com

(6) CRISP database

(7) Multiple sclerosis. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and NIH.

(8) Lief, F S, Rorke, L B, Kalter, S S, Hoffman, S F, Roosa, R A, Moore, G T, Cummins, L B, McCullough, B, Rodriguez, A R, Eichberg, J, Koprowski, H. (1976). Infection and disease induced in chimpanzees with 6/94, a parainfluenza type 1 virus isolated from human multiple sclerosis brain. Journal of Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 35 (6): 644-64, Nov-Dec.

(9) Rorke, L B, Iwasaki, Y, Koprowski, H, Wroblewska, Z, Gilden, D H, Warren, K G, Lief, F S, Hoffman, S, Cummins, L B, Rodriguez, A R, Kalter, S. (1979). Acute demyelinating disease in a chimpanzee three years after inoculation of brain cells from a patient with MS. Ann Neurol, 5 (1): 89-94.

(10) Information obtained from NIH Grant 5R01NS042890-03, received via FOIA in April 2005. “Identifying a viral cause of Multiple Sclerosis,” Northwestern University/Evanston Northwest Healthcare, IL. June 1, 2002—May 31, 2007.

(11) Ibid.

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