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New research: Rhesus macaque shows promise as model for Covid-19 vaccine studies

The researchers followed immune responses in the rhesus macaques over about two weeks. The animals showed all the signs of producing an effective immune response to a viral infection.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: January 25, 2021 3:16:56 pm
The rhesus macaque, a monkey widely prevalent in India, is a promising model for vaccines against Covid-19, according to two independent studies. (Wikipedia)

In infectious diseases such as Covid-19, animal studies help scientists predict how well a candidate vaccine will work. They inform scientists which immune cells triggered by the vaccine are protective, whether the vaccine will be viable as a human intervention, and how the disease progresses in people with compromised immune systems.

The rhesus macaque, a monkey widely prevalent in India, is a promising model for vaccines against Covid-19, according to two independent studies.

In Nature Microbiology, scientists have recommended use of the macaque as a model to help develop vaccines. The study also found that the baboon showed greater disease development, making it a potential option for evaluating anti-viral therapeutics and co-morbidities such as diabetes.

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And in Nature Communications, scientists have reported that rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2 developed protective immune responses that might be reproduced with a vaccine.

In the Nature Microbiology study, scientists at Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) and Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) evaluated three nonhuman primate species — Indian rhesus macaques, African baboons and new-world origin common marmosets — and young and old animals.

They found that the macaque and baboon models develop strong signs of acute viral infection leading to pneumonia, and the non-human primate immune system mounts a strong response and clears the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

In the Nature Communications study, scientists at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, infected eight rhesus macaques with SARS-CoV-2 virus isolated from the first human patient treated at UC Davis.

The researchers followed immune responses in the rhesus macaques over about two weeks. The animals showed all the signs of producing an effective immune response to a viral infection.

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