Skip to main content

Caribbean Primate Research Center (SPF Program)

Maintenance of a Closed Caribbean Primate Research Center Specific-Pathogen-Free Colony

Grant Number: U42OD021458

Research Emphasis/Objectives

Research objectives are to (1) establish and maintain a specific-pathogen-free (SPF) rhesus macaque supply and breeding colony program; and (2) enhance the existing SPF rhesus macaque supply and breeding colony program at the SabanaSeca Field Station of the Caribbean Primate Research Center (CPRC). The CPRC program will make a significant contribution to advancing AIDS research by providing high-quality and healthy SPF rhesus monkeys to NIH-sponsored research programs. The CPRC program uses genetically characterized, major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-typed, Indian-origin monkeys from CPRC's free-ranging colony on the island of Cayo Santiago. Previous surveys have shown that the Cayo Santiago macaques are free of several important viruses, including retroviruses and simian virus 40 (SV-40), and that the majority of immature animals are negative for herpes B virus (Herpesvirus simiae or Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1). About 20–25 percent of these monkeys also are Mamu-A*01 positive. Currently, there is a shortage of SPF rhesus monkeys for biomedical research, and the demand for these animals is expected to increase dramatically in the future. The establishment and maintenance of this program at the SabanaSeca Field Station will help meet the increased demand for both SPF (free of herpes B virus, simian type D retrovirus, simian immunodeficiency virus [SIV], simian T-lymphotrophic virus [STLV] 1, and SV-40) and Mamu-A*01-positive rhesus monkeys. Forty-five SPF females and nine SPF males (nine breeding groups) will be added to the colony each year through internal recruitment from Cayo Santiago and the SabanaSeca Field Station. MHC-typing and selective breeding will be used to increase the production of SPF Mamu-A*01-positive offspring.

The Virology Laboratory conducts research on recombinant DNA vaccines using rhesus macaques and performs viral tests for herpes B virus, STLV, and SIV. The biosafety level 2/3 Virology Laboratory has allowed the CPRC to establish the SPF program under the sponsorship of ORIP, and one of its major objectives is to support ongoing SPF programs. The laboratory serves as a platform of research in vaccine development (simian/human immunodeficiency virus [SHIV], SIV, dengue) and in genetics. This laboratory provides services to the conventional and SPF CPRC colonies (viral serology/PCR). With the support of R01 and U01 NIH grants, this laboratory is collaborating with mainland investigators in vaccine and pathogenesis studies involving rhesus macaques.

Services Provided

CPRC welcomes collaborative research with established behavioral and biomedical investigators and encourages the use of its animal and osteological resources for dissertation research. Investigators are charged modest use fees for access to the animals, computerized database, and office space. All proposals receive rigorous peer review and are judged on scientific merit, feasibility, and potential overlap with ongoing studies. Protocols using live monkeys must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of the home institution, as well as the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus IACUC.

Contact Information

University of Puerto Rico
Medical Sciences Campus
P.O. Box 1053
Sabana Seca, PR 00952-1053
Virology Laboratory:

Principal Investigator

Melween Martínez, Ph.D.
Phone: 787-474-0604

Other Contacts

Carlos A. Sariol, M.D.
Phone: 787-758-2525 ext. 5112 or ext. 1189
Fax: 787-767-1442

Virology Laboratory
Office B-315
University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine
P.O. Box 365067
San Juan, PR 00936-5067