Scientific research involving non-human primates has contributed towards many advances in medicine and surgery. This review discusses its role in the progress made towards our understanding of Parkinson’s disease and its treatment. Established medical treatments like dopamine agonists continue to need primate models to assess their efficacy, safety, and mechanism of action. The recently developed treatment of deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus required validation in primates before entering the clinic. Controversies surrounding future treatments such as gene therapy show the need for properly evaluated preclinical research using appropriate animal models before progression to clinical trials. Research on primates has played—and continues to play—a crucial part in deepening our understanding of Parkinson’s disease, improving current therapies, and developing new treatments that are both safe and effective. In animal research, the “three Rs” of humane technique—reduction, refinement, and replacement—should be adhered to.
- 6-OHDA, 6-hydroxydopamine
- DBS, deep brain stimulation
- GABA, γ-aminobutyric acid
- GDNF, glial cell line derived neurotrophic factor
- MPTP, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
- PD, Parkinson’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- basal ganglia
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Funding: this review was written without involvement from any funding source.
TA is supported by the Medical Research Council and is a member of the Boyd Group, a UK based forum for open exchange of views on issues of concern related to the use of primates in science (http://www.boyd-group.demon.co.uk/).