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How primates help fight COVID-19 in …

(Updates title, adds center details)

By Nathan Frandino

COVINGTON, La., June 10 (Reuters) – On a 500-acre (200-hectare) plot near a small Louisiana town north of New Orleans, about 5,000 monkeys climb and stay in an enclosure.

Many primates, most notably rhesus macaques, at the Tulane National Research Center are intended for use in research, including experiments on COVID-19.

The facility, with high-level biosafety laboratories capable of dealing with biological threat agents such as anthrax, was well positioned to turn quickly to COVID-19 research when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The DNA and physiological characteristics of primates make them ideal models for comparing humans to disease studies, said Skip Bohm, assistant director and chief veterinarian at Tulane Center.

“Non-human primates are really critical for us to understand not only the disease and how it affects the body, but also to compare treatments, therapies, vaccinations,”

; Bohm told Reuters.

Rhesus macaques, the most commonly used primate species for research, make up most of the center’s breeding colony and the 200 adult animals used in its coronavirus experiments in the past year.

COVID-19-related research from the center includes one published in the February February issue of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that older people with a high body mass index and a more severe COVID-19 infection exhaled more respiratory droplets, which allows them to become so-called. “Super-distributors”.

Primates were at the heart of the study, said Chad Roy, co-author of the study and director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Aerobiology.

Among future work, the center plans to study “long COVID,” the frequency of every tenth diagnosed patient who stays ill long after an acute infection.

“There are many different therapies that come online that need to be tested, and with the network we have, we can compare one treatment to another,” said center director Jay Rapaport, referring to the facility’s role in coordinating the work of the center. COVID-19 from the seven primate research centers in the United States.

After completing the experiments, the Tulane Center euthanized the monkeys for tissue collection, allowing researchers to study the effects of COVID-19 beyond the respiratory system.

Kathy Guillermo of the Laboratory of Animal Ethics (PETA) said primates should not be used for testing.

“They shouldn’t kill them if they don’t use them,” she said. “What we learn from value will be what we learn from people.” (Report by Nathan Frandino; Edited by Karishma Singh and Jane Wardle)

Our standards: Thomson Reuters’ principles of trust.

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