Test of Drug Addiction on Monkeys—Should It be Banned?


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Drug addiction/dependence is a kind of chronic recurrent encephalopathy induced by the long-term repeated use of heroin, marijuana, morphine and other addictive substances, leaving the patients physical and mental dependence, and then producing the persistent craving for drugs, forced drug seeking and relapse after withdrawal. The etiology and mechanism of drug addiction are very complex, involving many brain nuclei, receptor systems and various intracellular signaling pathways. 


Due to the restriction of social ethics and law, related tests cannot be carried out on patients or normal people. Therefore, it is critical to establish an experimental animal model that can highly simulate the process of human drug addiction. Currently researchers adopt rats, mice, monkeys, tree shrews, zebrafish, among which the most commonly applied is rodent. Although effective research work has been carried out based upon the above models, from the perspective of human representativeness, there are still species differences between rodents and humans that can not be ignored that some complex symptoms of human addiction, such as long-term addiction related memory, can not reflect on rodent models. Non-human primates (NHPs) are the most similar to human beings in terms of genetic relationship, anatomical structure and physiological metabolism, superior to other species, which can better simulate the pathological process of human drug addiction and relapse, and is the most ideal animal model for addiction research at present.

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An outstanding CRO, Creative Biolabs holds comprehensive NHP resources, including biological samples from diseases models from Cynomolgus monkey, Africa green monkey, Cebus, squirrel monkey, rhesus monkey, chimpanzee, etc., aiming to support relevant tests of global researchers. Among the monkey species, the gene sequence and brain anatomical structure of Macaca mulatta are highly similar to those of human beings, which also have high-level cognitive and emotional responses, holding unique advantages in brain related tests that rodents can not simulate, including drug addiction, autism, schizophrenia and depression models. Additionally, comprehensive high-level NHP biological products like blood, tissue, body fluids, and monkey primary cells can ensure long-term, stable, secure supplies.

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Over 100,000 NHPs are used in biomedical research, mainly in the United States, Japan and Europe (excluding Chinese figures) annually. Groups hold different attitudes towards the use of NHPs for research. In the scientific community, it is convinced that because of the close relationship between NHPs and human beings, they are the best disease models. When there is no alternative, the appropriate use of monkey is still indispensable in biomedical and biological research fields so as to evaluate the safety of drugs. However, according to animal protection community, because of the close genetic relationship, NHPs can feel the same pain as human beings; on the other hand, NHPs themselves can not agree to participate in such tests in that they get no benefits or paid. Therefore, it is unethical to use non-human primates in experiment and research, which should be banned or canceled as soon as possible.


Drug addiction, as a social problem seriously endangering human health, has been continuously spreading around the world for a long time, attracting worldwide attention. The monkey model is the key to promote the research of addiction mechanism and anti addiction drugs. In recent years, with the development of medicine, scientific research has stricter rules over the experimental animals. NHPs, in terms of genetics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, immunology, reproduction and development, and age related changes, are highly similar to human, playing an irreplaceable role in specific research tests.

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