Special Resource Programs

special resources monkeysThe purpose of the Special Resource Programs is to ensure that the animal needs of the various research programs are met. The current programs are Primate Genetics, Aging Nonhuman Primates, and Obese Nonhuman Primates.

The Primate Genetics Program is composed of three individual units providing different areas of expertise within the overall field of genetics: Collaborative Genetic Resources, Colony Genetics and Demographics, and Biostatistics. The staff of these units works to address the genetic research and analytic needs for colony management in the Division of Animal Resources, for research investigators in the Scientific Divisions, and, as appropriate, for collaborative and contract research. The program address both current needs and is building resources to meet future needs, through the establishment of DNA banks, long-term phenotyping projects and the support of multicenter studies. In total, the units will work together to provide the genetic resources (a well-pedigreed and characterized colony, support for study design, genetic material acquisition, and statistical analysis) necessary to capitalize on the wealth of genetic research opportunity that the ONPRC rhesus macaque colony represents.

The Aging Nonhuman Primate Resource provides animals necessary for research on the mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases, and is an important component of the Biology of Aging Program at the ONPRC and OHSU Healthy Aging Alliance.  This unique, highly translational resource is supported by ONPRC and also the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the latter through the Primate Aging Study program. The NIA recognized the need for a highly translatable model, similar to humans, to address the health concerns of the growing elderly population. Already the oldest baby-boomers have entered retirement, and accompanying the continued escalation in the number of post-retirees, will be a transition of individuals into greater levels of fragility and chronic, progressive illnesses. Hence any therapies that can delay, diminish, and in some cases, cure maladies that are associated with advanced age, will be essential to mitigate health concerns in the elderly.

The Obese Nonhuman Primate Resource is comprised of three colonies of macaques that become obese when fed a high-fat/high-calorie diet (HF diet). The Japanese macaque model supports investigations on the effects of maternal diet and metabolic health on the development of metabolic systems in the offspring; the Rhesus macaque model is employed for studies testing pharmaceutical therapeutics for obesity, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease; and the Cynomolgous macaque model supports research models that investigate metabolic disease in nonhuman primates.  All three models are used for research in the Metabolic Disease Working Group. These models are being expanded in an effort to understand the progression of the disease as well as to understand the full spectrum of complications that are associated with obesity.

The ONPRC Japanese macaque captive breeding colony was established in 1965 with a gift of 55 animals from the Japanese government. The founders originated from the Hiroshima prefecture and have produced over 1600 descendents. The current troop spans 5 generations and includes 190 members. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest and oldest JM captive bred colony in the world.  

The Japanese macaque resource (JMR) serves as a unique research resource, offering the opportunity to study naturally occurring and biomedically important disease models not available in other NHP species or even other JM colonies.  Among the unique natural disease traits is Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis (JME), a disease that recapitulates both the etiological and pathophysiological processes that occur in multiple sclerosis (MS) and related demyelinating diseases. To our knowledge, this disease only occurs in the ONPRC JM colony, providing an unprecedented opportunity to study the mechanisms underlying the onset of inflammatory demyelinating disease like MS. Another subset of individuals within the JMR exhibit a retinal disease phenotype that closely parallels human dominant drusen syndromes such as Malattia Leventinese/Doyne honeycomb dystrophy, which are phenotypically similar to age related macular degeneration. JMs have also been utilized in diet-induced obesity studies, focused on the effects of high fat diet on maternal and child health.

The goal of the JM Resource is to support and inform JM colony management decisions to establish a healthy, genetically and demographically balanced JM resource, ensuring the longevity and productivity of this valuable research resource. These goals are being achieved by 1) careful rebalancing of the demographic distribution of the JM breeding colony to enhance productivity, 2) establishing supplemental harem-breeding groups to retain and expand rare disease models (JME and Drusen), and 3) using imaging and genetic approaches to characterize individual disease risk within the JM breeding colony.