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Rhesus monkeys in Nepal may provide new alternative for HIV/AIDS research

DNA and examined the distribution of certain types of alleles, or pairs of genes, for genetic variations distributed across 17 chromosomes. They also looked for the presence of other alleles that are known to influence immunity and the rate of disease progression in the animals, including one that is present in Indian rhesus macaques but not in the Chinese ones.

Kyes, who also is a UW research associate professor of psychology, said the genetic analyses indicate the Nepali rhesus macaques are genetically similar to Indian-origin rhesus macaques. In addition, while the temple samples were taken from an isolated population, he believes they may be representative of Nepali rhesus macaques in general given the past history of the area and the geographic barrier of the Himalayan Mountains that separates Nepal and India from China.

To facilitate the use of rhesus macaques in research while ensuring the conservation of Nepal's naturally occurring rhesus populations, the Nepali government enacted a policy in 2003 stipulating that only captive-bred animals may be used for scientific research. The rhesus macaque is prevalent in many countries and is not considered an endangered species. An agreement between the Nepal Biodiversity Research Society and the Washington National Primate Research Center was signed in September 2003 and a captive-breeding facility is now under construction. A breeding colony is expected to be established within 12 months.

"This program will not harm the natural populations because we will establish the self-sustaining breeding colony with a relatively small number of animals that will be acquired from areas of known human-monkey conflicts," said Kyes. "In Nepal, this conflict is caused by monkeys that raid staple crops such as sweet potatoes and corn. Crop raiding is prevalent in many areas in Nepal and in the last five to 10 years there are many instances of local people seeking to solve this problem by chasing or killi
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Source:University of Washington


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