San Antonio's Texas Biomedical Research Institute, best known as the 'place with the monkeys' on Loop 410, has made a possible breakthrough in the effort to come up with a vaccine to fight the Zika virus, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Research published in the journal Scientific Reports shows Texas Biomed researchers have discovered that male marmoset, a type of monkey, develops Zika infection patterns that closely resemble the human illness the virus creates in humans, including the presence of the virus in semen, saliva, and urine up to two weeks after the initial infection.
"Given the key similarities to human infections, a marmoset model of Zika may be useful for testing of a new drug and vaccines," Texas Biomed researcher Dr. Jean Patterson said.
"Having an animal model of Zike investion to study may help us identify places where we might be able to block transmission."
Now that Zika is being transmitted more readily from person to person in Texas, the urgency is increasing to come up with a vaccine.
While the main method of transmission is being bitten by a Zika carrying mosquito, cases can be transmitted through sexual contact, and Texas Biomed Researchers say these methods of transmission are seen in marmosets as well.
The small size of the marmoset, about the size of a rat, is also useful in testing vaccines.
Texas Biomed is the home to some 2500 primates at its Southwest National Primate REsearch Center, and Texas Biomed stresses its commitment to treating the animals humanely, not only because its the right thing to do, but because well treated animals make high quality subjects for research.