Perspectives on Hepatitis B studies with chimpanzees

Chimpanzees have been shown to be exquisitely susceptible to human hepatitis viruses, without themselves developing clinical illness, thus providing an important model for studies on these agents. Chimpanzees have contributed substantially to human welfare by making possible the development of hepatitis B vaccines, which now prevent development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in millions of people. They have provided a means to evaluate the efficacy of virus inactivation strategies, which have made blood derivatives formerly contaminated with blood-borne viruses (hepatitis B, C, and human immunodeficiency viruses) safe with respect to their transmission. In exchange for these contributions, humans owe chimpanzees lifelong retirement in sanctuaries that offer socialization and environmental enrichment.

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