Summary of Chimpanzee Research

The committee was asked, as part of its task, to review the current use of chimpanzees for biomedical and behavioral research. To assess the use of the chimpanzee as an animal model, the committee explored research supported by the NIH and other federally and privately funded research over the past 10 years.

The largest percentage of federally funded chimpanzee research has been supported by the NIH, with additional projects funded by other federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Science Foundation. Of the 110 identified projects sponsored by the NIH between 2001 and 2010, 44 were for research on hepatitis; comparative genomics accounted for 13 projects; 11 projects were for neuroscience research; 9 projects were for AIDS/HIV studies; and 7 projects were for behavioral research. The remaining projects funded a limited number of studies in areas such as malaria and respiratory syncytial virus and projects supporting chimpanzee colonies.

Committee analysis of the use of chimpanzees in the private sector was hindered by the proprietary nature of the information. However, based on limited publications and public non-proprietary information, it is clear that the private sector is using the chimpanzee model, especially in areas of drug safety, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics. Although its use appears to be limited and decreasing over the 10 years examined by the committee, the chimpanzee model is being employed by industry in the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines for hepatitis B and C as well as in the development of monoclonal antibody therapeutics.

Principles Guiding the Use of Chimpanzees in Research

The task given to the committee by the NIH asked two questions about the need for chimpanzees in research: (1) Is biomedical research with chimpanzees “necessary for research discoveries and to determine the safety and efficacy of new prevention or treatment strategies?” and (2) Is behavioral research using chimpanzees “necessary for progress in understanding social, neurological, and behavioral factors that influence the development, prevention, or treatment of disease?” In responding to these questions, the committee concluded that the potential reasons for undertaking biomedical and behavioral research as well as the protocols used in each area are different enough to require different sets of criteria.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement