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ARTs in action in nonhuman primates: Symposium summary – advances and remaining issues

DOI: 10.1186/1477-7827-2-43

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Until recently, the primary rationale for ARTs research with nonhuman primates has been to provide information and new technologies that could assist human ARTs. Because basic research, and to some extent the development of new technologies, cannot or should not be done on humans, the nonhuman primate model ought to play a central role in these efforts. Paradoxically, this role to date has been minimal, for several reasons. First, human ART (IVF/IVP/ET) was established before ART in nonhuman primates. Human ART has been developing since 1969, when the first IVF was reported [3], culminating in the birth of Louise Brown in 1978, five years before the first nonhuman primate IVF births. Because of the social importance and commercialization of human ART, it has progressed much faster than nonhuman primate ART. This has made it difficult to present the case for nonhuman primate ART as a model for human ART, because the former is usually perceived as playing "catch-up" to the latter. Second, nonhuman primate ART presently owes more to human ART than vice-versa, e.g., the development and availability of human recombinant gonadotropins, without which monkey ART would be very difficult and perhaps prohibitively expensive. As a result, there has been very little technology transfer from basic research with nonhuman primates to the human clinical arena. Nevertheless, there are several key areas in which progress in human ART has virtually stalled, and quantum improvements in ART success will need new information and technology that can only be obtained using suitable experimental animal models, i.e., nonhuman primates. The efficiency of human ART is rather low – on average, about 12% per embryo transferred, and <5% per embryo produced [4,5]. Improvements could be made, for example, by devising even better culture media for IVP and objective methods for selecting the most viable embryos for transfer. Moreover, as this symposium demonstrates, there is great potential for nonhum


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