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Considering Origin and Species Selection for NHP Studies: It’s Good to Have Options

April 9, 2024

When looking to conduct pharmacology and toxicological studies, one important consideration is the origin of the test subjects that will be used, and the specific species to be utilized. Envol Biomedical understands the nuance of this selection process and works with their clients to find the right fit for their goals. Below, we highlight some of the factors that influence these decisions, and how Envol Biomedical stands out from the crowd.

The importance of choosing the right species

The experimental design of a study is a key factor in the selection of an appropriate non-human primate (NHP) species. While it may initially seem simple, there are many nuances when considering animal selection, and that’s where the importance of being able to know the animal’s origin comes into play. Is it a new world or an old world animal, are there different sizes, what is the animal’s lineage, etc., are all important questions to ask in the developmental stage of a NHP study. 

There has been documentation that some origins and species are more sensitive to certain types of molecules than others, and there can be differences in immunology that make one species more suited than another. Additionally, while there is a lot of genetic overlap, there can also be differences within the genetics of the same species from different origins/lineages.  Further, in many cases there are needs to evaluate tropism of novel therapies in different species, to further validate the translatability of the target. In addition to these variables, it has been shown that some origins and sources may have a lower background of exposure to viruses that may create challenges in delivery for some adeno virus based delivery vehicles.

At Envol, we have access to numerous species and multiple origins that are best suited to different types of studies. The cynomolgus Macaque is one such species of NHP that we have access to, from various origins. Historically, these have been the most popular species in the biomedical research field over the last 10 to 15 years, in large part due to the historical data around certain origins. We also have, in small quantities, rhesus macaques, and also marmosets. Marmosets are a specialty animal in the world of research, but they’ve been heavily utilized in central nervous system (CNS) research, infectious disease research, as well as gene therapy research due to their small size and ability to be utilized in many pharmacological models. Another species we utilize is the vervet, or the African green monkey, which originally came from Africa, but also now comes from St. Kitt’s and other islands.

Challenges that arise when specific origins have to change

One of the challenges that people can end up facing is that they build up all of this historical data on a species of a specific origin, and then they no longer can access that specific origin. So now they have to generate new data to understand what their research looks like in an animal of a different origin. For example, China shut down its exports, and a lot of researchers had to pivot to animals of different origins because we could no longer access them, and the same thing happened when the Cambodia disruption occurred. One of the things that we here at Envol have done in the wake of these challenges is to really work to create relationships with our suppliers so that we can offer a diversity of origins in which we have a predicted sustainable supply. We also work to offer a diversity of offerings within our own supply. This diversity helps to give our clients better options and helps to meet the needs of their selection criteria.

Superior Diversity Offerings

Right now, we’re working very heavily with animals from Indonesia and of Philippine origin, but we also have African greens and, to a slightly lesser extent, Mauritius origins. This diversity can be really beneficial when clients come in with very specific criteria for the type of animal they want to utilize. Oftentimes, clients prefer to use animals of Asian origin, due to the historical data that they have, and they may want to avoid utilizing animals of Mauritius origin because of differences they’ve seen or the historical data that they have. So the fact that we can be cognizant of that, and help meet them in their needs, is a big thing for us. 

The bottom line

Whether clients already know the lineage they need for a study, or they’re trying to decide on the most appropriate species for their research, Envol Biomedical can help them find the right fit. They can help review the pros and cons of different animals, as well as the accessibility of the animals being considered from different origins.