Summary of Recent Breakthroughs

 Updated: 2015


•    Preserving cancer survivors’ ability to have children – Research at ONPRC is focusing on preserving fertility during cancer treatments. The center is developing approaches to protect a women's ova from the devastating effects of current cancer therapies.
•    Giving hope to  infertile couples – Recent advances in non-invasive time-lapse imaging have allowed for the identification of embryos following in vitro fertilization that are predictive of successful implantation that leads to a normal term pregnancy. Research being conducted at the center is using this new technology to identify abnormal chromosome segregation in embryos that would likely fail to implant, develop to term, or result in offspring with genetic anomalies.
•    Making birth control better, safer – Research at ONPRC has highlighted new birth control methods that appear to be safer, more effective and more convenient than current methods. More info here.


•    Uncovering a promising new method for protecting babies born to mothers with HIV – Researchers at ONPRC are boosting antibody levels as a way to “educate” part of the baby’s immune system within the first few hours of birth to better fight of the disease. More info here.
•    Finding a new method for introducing AIDS vaccine into the body – Research into cytomegalovirus (a disease carried by a majority of the population) has revealed unique characteristics of the disease - discovered in part by ONPRC – that may help in the battle to prevent AIDS. More info here. This work resulted in additional funding from the prestigious Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More info here.  


•    Battling an addiction that destroys families - Research at ONPRC is revealing why some people are more likely to become victims of alcoholism and highlights some of the possible methods of combating the disease. More info here.

Brain Disorders

•    Combating multiple sclerosis - Scientists at ONPRC have discovered a naturally occurring disease in monkeys that is very much like multiple sclerosis in humans — a discovery that could have a major impact on efforts to understand the cause of and treat multiple sclerosis. More info here.
•    Scientists at the ONPRC have created a non-human primate model of Huntington’s disease that replicates the motor and cognitive manifestations of disease seen in human patients suffering from this devastating brain disorder. Moreover, research has shown that shutting off the gene that causes Huntington’s disease, using a technique known as RNA interference, is a potential treatment for this fatal disease.



•    Providing important information to help combat obesity - Research at ONPRC has shown that diet alone will not cause weight loss. Many Americans abandon diets when they see little or no results. This research provides new information to help those who recognize the dangers of obesity and the need to do something about it. More info here.   
•    Demonstrating the impact of the obesity epidemic on future generations and finding solutions – Research at ONPRC has revealed that diet plays a much more crucial role during pregnancy then a mother’s weight when it comes to ensuring a healthy child. This information can play a critical role in preventing the “snowball effect” of the current obesity epidemic. More info here
•    Preventing obesity-linked stress – Research at ONPRC highlights another issue related to the obesity epidemic:  Children born predisposed to high stress levels. More info here

Gene therapy

•    Making gene therapy a reality – ONPRC made a major breakthrough that may become a new gene therapy technique when scientists find a way to prevent genetic mutations from being passed from mothers to their children. More info here  
•    Global distribution of gene therapy in the brain- Scientists at the ONPRC have demonstrated that a gene therapy treatment for neurodegenerative disorders can be administered into the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain-barrier to deliver a disease-modifying drug throughout the brain. This new technique is a major step towards alleviating the need for invasive brain surgery.
•    The ONPRC is home to a new state-of-the-art neurosurgical suite that uses real time, MRI-guided surgery to deliver disease-modifying drugs into the brain with precision and accuracy. Research at the ONPRC is using MRI-guided neurosurgery to plan for upcoming clinical trials in humans suffering from Huntington’s disease.

Stem cell therapies

•    Showing the promise/limits of stem cells - An ONPRC study provided new information about how early embryonic stem cells develop and take part in formation of the primate species. The research also resulted in the birth of the world’s first chimeric offspring. More info here
•    Advancing stem cell therapies - ONPRC scientists successfully reprogrammed skin cells to become embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Methods like this may one day provide a source of ESCs without the need for fertilized eggs. Scientists believe stem cells have the ability to fight countless diseases including Parkinson’s disease and cancer.  More info here


•    Research at ONPRC has shown how a moderate decrease in calories can extend life.
•    Combating the effects of smoking when mothers refuse to quit - ONPRC research has revealed that Vitamin C has the ability to prevent some of the damages caused by smoking. A treatment pioneered at ONPRC is now being tested in humans. The goal is to shield unborn babies from the damaging impacts of nicotine when pregnant women are unable to stop smoking. More info here
•     Combating or preventing disease outbreaks --  A study by ONPRC demonstrated that contrary to previous professional beliefs, the U.S. population is less susceptible to a smallpox attack than previously thought. The research shows that smallpox vaccination can protect a person for decades instead of years. This information helps inform emergency vaccination strategies in case of an attack. More info here.  ONPRC’s research has also revealed new data about a monkeypox outbreak in the Midwest in 2005. The research provided several important lessons. More info here.
•    Teaming up to ensure healthy aging – To respond to the world’s ballooning aging population, researchers at ONPRC teamed up with physicians, human-based researchers, support organizations and seniors themselves to assure that the necessary resources and knowledge is in place. More info here.

Animal care

•    Animal care employees at ONPRC are animal lovers themselves – More than 100 people dedicate their work hours to the care of our animals, including 14 veterinarians and eight specialists in psychological well-being. They work hard to ensure the animals are well cared for, entertained and they encourage natural behaviors.  Here’s one example: the delivery of pumpkins each fall  - a special treat for the monkeys – More info here
•    Maintaining an outstanding record of animal care – To prove this, ONPRC posts its USDA inspections online – They can be found here
•    Going above and beyond what is required. The primate center maintains voluntary accreditation - which is even more demanding than the country’s strict animal care laws -- because we care about our animals and because it is the right thing to do. More info here.