The Marmoset Aging Center has established a specific-pathogen free, barrier-maintained colony of marmosets — a unique primate model for the study of aging and age-related disease. The Center is the only facility in the world that maintains marmosets under barrier conditions, to promote excellent health and produce large numbers of aged animals for research.
Why use primates for aging research?
- Primates are close relatives of humans, and therefore responses to drugs and other therapies are likely to be similar in humans and primates.
- Primates demonstrate more complex mental processes than rodents; therefore, primates serve as a better research model to study the deterioration of complex mental processes characteristic of aging in humans.
The marmoset advantage.
- Availability: Because marmosets are not threatened or endangered and are actually considered a “pest” species in some areas, they are readily available. Marmosets also have twins or triplets rather than single births like rhesus monkeys, so colonies can be enlarged relatively quickly.
- Genetics: Marmosets are almost as closely related to humans as rhesus monkeys, making them an ideal model for aging studies.
- Size: Marmosets are small. Weighing about 400 g., they are easy to handle and require comparatively little space, making a biomedical facility’s cost of maintaining a marmoset approximately 1/10th to 1/20th of that of a rhesus monkey.
- Life Span: Marmosets are short-lived compared to other primates, living only 6-15 years, so long-term aging studies are more feasible.
- Disease: Marmosets do not carry viruses that endanger their handlers.