Nonhuman primates are critically important animal models in which to study complex human diseases, understand biological functions, and address the safety of new diagnostics and therapies proposed for human use. They have genetic, physiologic, immunologic, and developmental similarities when compared to humans and therefore provide important preclinical models of human health and disease. This review highlights select research areas that demonstrate the importance of nonhuman primates in translational research. These include pregnancy and developmental disorders, infectious diseases, gene therapy, somatic cell genome editing, and applications of in vivo imaging. The power of the immune system and our increasing understanding of the role it plays in acute and chronic illnesses are being leveraged to produce new treatments for a range of medical conditions. Given the importance of the human immune system in health and disease, detailed study of the immune system of nonhuman primates is essential to advance preclinical translational research. The need for nonhuman primates continues to remain a high priority, which has been acutely evident during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) global pandemic. Nonhuman primates will continue to address key questions and provide predictive models to identify the safety and efficiency of new diagnostics and therapies for human use across the lifespan.
Keywords: developmental disorders; gene therapy; immune system; in vivo imaging; infectious diseases; preclinical models.