Currently, the Thai government is aware of necessary development of living quality for the Thai people, especially in terms of the public health system, and thus increasingly supports research in development of drugs, herbs, vaccines and biomedical research. Due to Thailand’s location, the country is a source of diversity of plants with traditional medicinal values and a great deal of research has been conducted with the final goal of manufacturing drugs for human use. However, most research was not able to reach the final step because of the lack of non-human primates (NHPs) for drug testing or toxicological studies. Therefore, most herbs are only classified as supplements. Not only that NHPs are required for drug manufacturing and development, they are also essential in toxicological tests and vaccine production for emerging and recurring diseases, such as H1N1 and flu.

Investment in drug testing, required for drug manufacture, is ever-increasing, partly due to the rising cost of experiments with laboratory animals to test for drug toxicity and safety during the preclinical phase. This is necessary to abide to the rules and regulations imposed by the drug administration authority, which demands strict reports of drug testing with laboratory animals to obtain safe drugs for humans and animals.

The increasing cost of laboratory animals causes the American and European pharmaceutical and drug testing companies moved to the Asian countries, such as China, India and Singapore because they are potential and testing efficiency combining with the lower cost. With awareness of the importance of NHPs in biomedical research and more than 40 years of experience as the first organization in Thailand to establish a Primate Research Unit, combining with the competent and willing personnel in the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Veterinary Sciences, Dentistry, and Science, Chulalongkorn University has established the first National Primate Research Center of Thailand.

NHPs, such as cynomolgus macaque Macaca fascicularis, rhesus macaque M. mulatta and common marmoset Callithrix jacchus, have been used in research with results applicable to human use because of their anatomical and physiological similarities to humans. Other rodents, such as mice and rats, which are popular in experiments in Thailand, are not so similar to humans. Therefore, more than a few results from costly and time-consuming experiments with rodents are discarded because of the lack of applicability in human.


Leading Primate Research Center in Asia with International Standards Accredited in Animal Care and Research


The role of NPRCT on Thailand Development

Before the NPRCT has been established in Thailand, most of biomedical research cannot proceed to further developing steps and reach the application level. For example, many vaccine or drug development researches conducted in the rodents cannot get across from preclinical trial to clinical application. Consequently, many of medical innovation can neither be applied on humans nor further developed to the medical industrial scale. Moreover, Thailand is facing with many diseases including tropical diseases, endemic diseases, emerging diseases and reemerging diseases but only limited vaccines can be produced within the country.

The establishment of the primate center does not only serve a sustainable self-sufficiency drug and vaccine development and production in Thailand. Moreover, the center is going to provide research services for both in country and aboard, especially for the ASEAN community. Furthermore, the establishment of the center is also supporting the 2011 national agenda on vaccine production that aims to produce vaccines in Thailand, i.e. Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis, Japanese Encephalitis and Dengue fever.