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The Callicam
Current Research


  1. Why Common Marmosets are used in Research
    1. Advantages
    2. Disadvantages
  2. Toxicological Research
    1. Safety pharmacology (Page 2)
    2. Immunological Research (Page 3)
      1. Advantages of using the common marmoset in immunological research
      2. Multiple Sclerosis research (Page 4)
  3. Biomedical Research
    1. Coronary heart disease model (Page 5)
    2. Stroke model (Page 6)
    3. Parkinson's disease (Page 7)
    4. Reproductive constraints (Page 8)
  4. Behavioral Research
    1. Enrichment (Page 9)

I. Why Common Marmosets are used in Research

Modern day biomedical research on common marmoset monkeys began in the early 1960s when the use of nonhuman primates as laboratory models for human disease dramatically increased. Before 1960, the majority of laboratory colonies of common marmosets were used for behavioral and anthropological studies. The principal advantage of using nonhuman primates in research comes from their approximate 88-97% genetic similarity to humans. Many species of nonhuman primates, however, are difficult to study in a laboratory because they are endangered in the wild (so their population numbers are low), expensive to maintain, have low reproduction rates, and require a large quantity of test materials as well as cage space. Because of these limitations only 30 of the estimated 200 primate species are used in biomedical and behavioral research.

  1. Advantages for using the common marmoset for research:
    • Small size allows for:
      • reasonable housing space
      • easy handling
      • less test material required
      • animals can be housed socially
    • They reproduce well in captivity
    • They are inexpensive to keep
    • Wild populations are not endangered so population numbers are high
    • They are useful for many different biomedical studies such as toxicology, immunology, fertility, and behavior
  2. Disadvantages for using the common marmoset in research:
    Despite the many advantages of using the common marmoset for research there are also a few drawbacks.
    • Small size prevents sampling of large amounts of blood or tissue
    • Small amounts of blood and tissue are often not enough to obtain results
    • Small brain lacks sophistication which limits the types of psychological and cognitive research studies that can be performed (i.e. common marmosets cannot complete a two-step puzzle task, whereas a rhesus monkey can)

Further Reading:

Gerrard, P. A. (2000). Use of the Marmoset in Pharmacological Studies. European Marmoset Research Group Inter-Disciplinary Forum for Discussion and Training in Primate Biological and Biomedical Research. 6th Workshop of the European Marmoset Research Group (Programme & Abstracts). 14.

MacNulty, P. A. (2000). The Choice of Species in Toxicology- Why the Marmoset? European Marmoset Research Group (2000). Inter-Disciplinary Forum for Discussion and Training in Primate Biological and Biomedical Research. 6th Workshop of the European Marmoset Research Group (Programme & Abstracts). 26.

Rylands, A. B. (1997). The Callitrichidae: A Biological Overview. Handbook: Marmosets and Tamarins in Biomedical Research. Salisbury, UK.: DSSD Imagery. 1-2.

Additional Related Links:

Rand, M. S. http://www.ahsc.arizona.edu/uac/notes/primatemodels98.htm

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Text by Rebecca Dallwig.