PRIMATE RESEARCH at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga, has already led to a number of important clinical advances and is yielding many insights that may eventually lead to new ways of preventing or treating a host of human ailments.
Monkeys and apes are enormously expensive research subjects that are much more difficult to work with than mice, dogs, and other research animals. Many species are either rare or endangered. Nevertheless, they are "our nearest kin and they often can tell us things about ourselves that only close family members will reveal," as one investigator put it.
Take the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), for example. In 1985, Yerkes researchers discovered that many of their sooty mangabey monkeys, a species native to West Africa, carried a simian immunodeficiency virus that was virtually identical to HIV-2. Although the virus did not appear to produce any illness in