Washington Update

FASEB Submits Letter to Senate on Importance of Nonhuman Primate Research

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Thursday, June 20, 2019

On June 19, FASEB submitted a letter to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee highlighting concerns about language in the FY2020 House LHHS Appropriations report approved last month that would significantly restrict the use of nonhuman primates within the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) intramural research program.

The letter reiterated the Federation’s statement of support for the use of animals in biomedical research and specifically the utility of nonhuman primates. Given the genetic and physiological similarities between humans and nonhuman primates, this species is an irreplaceable model for studying numerous disorders and scientific disciplines. These include infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and infertility, neurosciences, and organ transplantation.

Additionally, FASEB’s letter pointed out that while nonhuman primate research comprises a very small portion of NIH’s overall research portfolio (0.5 percent of NIH research projects utilize animals), it remains a critical component for addressing human health and disease. A recent NIH clinical trial revealed encouraging results for a sickle cell cure. As seen on 60 Minutes, a 28-year old patient recovered from the disease following gene therapy treatment. This was made possible by the principal investigator’s previous foundational research using nonhuman primates.

In its communication to the Senate Chairpersons, FASEB reaffirmed how the Animal Welfare Act and Public Health Service Policy firmly establish strict regulations for animal research. Spending scarce research dollars to justify the continued need for this important work would delay medical advances and prevent biomedical research from making the significant public health progress that all Americans deserve.