The infrastructure provides a platform to perform essential research that contributes to the identification and development of new medicines and therapies for debilitating human diseases. The facility maintains various non-human primate (NHP) models for human biology and disease but also is involved in actively generating alternatives for animal research in the light of the 3R principle (refinement, reduction and replacement). The facility provides unique expertise and facilities to study infectious diseases such as emerging viral infections, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer. The infrastructure is acknowledged as Central Facility for the testing of new TB vaccination strategies by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and also provides the expertise and facilities to study NHP behaviour. Working with animals requires a skilled staff and dedication. The animal welfare standards of the facility belong to the highest in the world and it was the first Primate Centre in Europe to receive an AAALAC accreditation. The combination of high-level research groups, scientific and veterinary expertise and NHP facilities make the facility a unique infrastructure that can provide specialized expertise and NHP models and unique materials to the research community.
The facility has its own closed breeding colony of non-human primates. All animals have a thoroughly characterized microbiological status and they are typed for several immunological markers such as their MHC. These colonies belong to the most thorough characterized NHP colonies in world providing unique opportunities for biomedical research in those cases where research only can be conducted in these models as no other means are available. The breeding programme provides all animals for the current research programmes and refrains from import. This set-up allows one to actively habituate and train animals and provides the opportunity to select the most suited animals for the particular scientific question and perform research with as little stress as possible. Animals are re-housed from the colony into the experimental facility upon need. The facility has an ABSL-2 facility for research with non-infectious diseases and infections that can be studied at BSL-2 level and a separate facility under biosafety level 3. The facility also offers the expertise and dedicated equipment for ultrasound imaging and PET-CT imaging under highly controlled conditions (ABSL-2 and 3 level). The facility has its own PET-CT scanner specifically designed for NHP research. The facility offers the scientific expertise and infrastructure for the accompanying laboratory analysis, such as dedicated autopsy rooms, clinical laboratories (haematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, histology) and research laboratories, and equipment for safe preparation and detailed analysis of the samples.
A unique additional feature of the facility is the availability of a large BPRC NHP-biobank. In this bank, unique material from various NHP species is stored including tissues, serum, CSF, blood cells and genetic samples.
The infrastructure offers its scientific and veterinary expertise and facilities for (joined) research and research programs using NHP models, including development of 3Rs alternatives.