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Show I talk with online news editor David Grimm about a rise in research using monkeys and Meghan Cantwell talks with news writer Adrienne Chow about the upcoming changes to standards for measurement like the metre and the kilogram alright well now we have David Grimm online news editor for science and we’re gonna talk about monkey research on the rise so Dave what have you found out about increases in the use of non-human primates by researchers in the US well the USDA.
The United States Department of Agriculture recently released its usage statistics so basically USDA tracks the number of animals used in biomedical research every year and they post a report and this year’s report been discovered 2017 is showing a record high.
Number of non-human primates and.
That essentially means monkeys in this case being used in biomedical research about 76,000 which is the highest it seems to have ever been and the trends have been inching upwards for the last last few years so what proportion of animal research is comprised of these non-human primates it was actually a pretty small percentage about 0.
The vast majority of animals used in research are mice.
And rats although they are not.
Recorded by USDA because they’re not covered by the Animal Welfare Act so we don’t have data on them but we have data on animals like cats dogs guinea pigs rabbits things like that and all those animals.
Are lower levels and they were 10 years ago and only the monkeys are at higher than there were ten years ago I’m sure there’s a lot of speculation on why these numbers are going up and one of them must be they’re needed for particular kinds of research what kinds of research are people increasingly using monkeys for right and you know that’s what a lot.
Of the biomedical research advocates are saying that these these animals are really needed more than ever you know we’ve got emerging infectious diseases like Zika we’re really starting to get a better understanding of the brain things like Alzheimer’s even developing things like interfaces where the brain can control prosthetics and all those things they say a really require monkey research is not the.
Kind of research you could do in a rat or a rabbit or anything like that what about drug research I mean there’s this business translation problem for so long and mice and rats have been considered the culprit do researchers think that monkeys are gonna help close that gap.
Yeah that’s what they say they.
Say you know the reason that the vast majority of drugs at work in rodents don’t work and humans is because they’re so different than us and non-human primates like monkeys are so similar to us genetically biologically the argument.
Is that we should be testing you know making more of an effort to make sure the drugs working them before they go on into human studies in you know because we’re trying to develop all these drugs for things.
Like depression Alzheimer’s things that really deal with the brain and you want an animal whose brain is pretty similar to.
Ours they’re saying these animals are really going to be needed you know more than ever and you know in fact National Institutes of Health is saying that the demand for monkeys is really going to probably increase over the next few years just because of things like this usually when.
You and I talk about research animals we’re talking about chimps because.
There’s been so many regulations put in place on their use in the US and then that hasn’t been happening with monkeys at all is that somehow a trade-off that might have occurred that’s a good question you know there there is actually no biomedical research on chimps allowed anymore in the u. so all chimpanzees are still in labs or theoretically on their way to being retired and the way that we got.
There was you know NIH commissioned a report a few years back that really was asking.
Tough questions about whether we really needed chimpanzees and biomedical research and the report came conclusion that we did that they really hadn’t proved to be they’re useful model that we thought they were and it wasn’t just it wasn’t worth the cost to use them and so a lot.
Of animal guide because they’re saying we should really do the same thing with monkeys we really need to take a hard look at weather just because we think.
These animals are gonna be better for biomedical research they’re saying that we really need to take a hard look at these animals and figure out are they really better will they really solve this reproducibility crisis this translate ability crisis or are.
They destined for the same path as chimpanzees where we’re eventually gonna see a phase-out these animals as well so we should really mention which kinds of monkeys that are being used in their research what what are you know what are the most common monkey research animals yeah the most common arm attacks especially rhesus macaques animals like baboons make up a.
Very small percentage so it’s mostly it’s mostly various species of macaque we can’t not mention marmosets there was another story a week or two.
Ago about there used in research and how that’s been changing right and the interesting story with marmoset switch actually only make up a pretty small fraction of the monkeys being used right now but they’re really becoming a demand for a lot of genetic.
Research a lot of transgenic animal research and the idea is the demand is actually so high for Mormons that’s right now that it we can’t the US.
Cash we can beat supply and some biomedical researchers are worried the same thing is starting to happen for.
Other monkeys as well like rhesus macaques that because the demand for you know cures for AIDS and Alzheimer’s and things like that is so high that we actually don’t as many monkeys as we’re using we actually may need more and.