Translational research on influenza virus infection using a nonhuman primate model

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Influenza virus infection is a seasonal infectious disease for humans, whereas it is also a zoonosis that is originally transmitted from animals to humans. Therefore, several animal models are used in research on influenza virus infection. We have used a nonhuman primate (NHP) model to extrapolate pathogenicity of various influenza viruses and efficacy of vaccines and antiviral drugs against the influenza viruses in humans. NHPs have genes, anatomical structure, and immune responses similar to those of humans as compared to other animal models. Using an NHP model, we revealed that the pandemic 2009 influenza A virus caused viral pneumonia as reported in human patients. Thus, it is thought that NHP models can be used to predict replication of emerging viruses in humans. We also examined the pathogenicity of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses and evaluated a new therapeutic antibody in macaques under an immunocompromised condition. NHP models have provided promising results in research on other infectious diseases including Ebola virus and human/simian immunodeficiency virus infections. Thus, NHPs are important in biomedical research for determining the pathogenesis and for development of treatments, especially when clinical trials are difficult. We summarize the characteristics and advantages of research using NHP models in this review.

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