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Diseases and models of diseases. Review of Nonhuman Primate Models for Human Disease edited by W. Richard Dukelow. Boca Raton Florida CRC Press 1983 216 pp $65

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American Journal of Primatology 5387-388 (1983)
Diseases and Models of Diseases
Review of Nonhuman Primate Models for Human Disease edited by W. Richard Dukelow.
Boca Raton, Florida, CRC Press, 1983,216 pp, $65.50.
There is no question that much of our knowledge concerning human disease
etiologies, processes, and cures has been obtained as a result of extensive animal
experimentation. As is well known, current legislation concerning human experimentation and treatment places even more emphasis on deriving new information
through judicious use of animal models of human disease than has been true in the
past. Given the important role animal research plays in development of medical
practices and policies, it is surprising that few publications exist which can be used
to evaluate the “goodness of fit” between a n animal model of a human disease and
the disease itself. This volume, as stated in the preface, is intended to fill that void
for a very important animal group in medical research-the nonhuman primates.
The audience for the book is necessarily limited. It is written specifically for those
individuals concerned with identifying which nonhuman primate species would
serve as the best model(s) for study of a particular human pathology. Evaluation of
the book will therefore be directed toward whether or not the chapters meet this
Five chapters in the book are concerned with specific disease states or areas of
major medical concern: Diabetes (Howard), movement disorders such as Parkinsons
disease (Jewett), viral disease (Daniel, King, and Hunt), birth defects (Hendrickx
and Binkerd), and reproduction (Dukelow). Each chapter provides an account of the
phenomenon in humans and a species-by-species description of research findings
derived from study of nonhuman primates. The emphasis for each of these five
chapters is on the degree to which mechanisms of disease or physiological processes
in nonhuman primates mimic or diverge from those in humans. These chapters
contain a minimum of evaluative commentary but would clearly be useful in selecting a nonhuman primate for study of diseases within any of these areas. For
example, the chapter on viral disease characterizes the essential features of 23
classes of viruses, identifies the viruses within each class to which humans are
susceptible, specifies which nonhuman primates spontaneously contract these viral
infections or can be artificially infected with them, and, finally, examines the extent
to which symptoms of infection are similar in human and nonhuman primates.
Availability of information in this detail is of obvious importance for selecting the
most appropriate species to serve as a model of a particular disease.
The remaining two chapters contained in the volume are less clearly related to
study of human disease processes. One chapter discusses the feasibility of using a
breeding colony for research purposes (Bernstein) and contains pertinent informa-
0 1983 Alan R. Liss, Inc.
tion which would be useful to any research facility concerned with breeding nonhuman primates, whether or not the explicit research objective is to develop animal
models of human disease. The remaining chapter on learning and language acquisition in primates (Rumbaugh and Massel) is a review of phylogenetic differences in
learning capacities among primates. Although most of the research discussed in this
chapter was not initially designed and conducted to serve as a nonhuman primate
model of a human disease, the information derived from this research has expanded
our understanding of some learning disorders in humans and their potential treatments, particularly with respect to language acquisition. Inclusion of these chapters
not only extends the breadth of coverage beyond discussion of specific models of
human disease, but also indicates awareness that the distinction between basic and
applied research is often dubious.
In selecting areas for inclusion in the volume, the editor states in the preface
that “The book was designed by identifying those areas of human medical research
that are under intensive research study today. Authors were then selected based on
their expertise a t using nonhuman primates as models for the human condition.”
This book is notable not only for the breadth of areas considered relevant for
inclusion, but also for exclusion of seemingly relevant areas. Thus, research using
nonhuman primates as models for study of neuronal plasticity, atherosclerosis,
nutrition, neurochemical bases of depression and schizophrenia, and disorders in
psychosocial development have been omitted from the volume, yet all are being
actively investigated in both human medical research in nonhuman primate
In summary, the book would be of considerable use to those individuals looking
for a nonhuman primate model for those diseases covered in the volume. Furthermore, since the volume delineates a number of diseases or disorders which occur
spontaneously in nonhuman primates or may be contracted by them, and because a
discussion of breeding practices is included, this volume will also be of considerable
use for management of nonhuman primate breeding colonies. It is a volume which
is ideally suited for use as a reference tool and as such will be a valuable contribution
to any library collection which serves research enterprises involved with nonhuman
Sally P. Mendoza
California Primate Research Center
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616
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