The Tulane National Primate Research Center was awarded a contract by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to head a partnership linking seven federally funded National Primate Research Centers in an effort to combine strengths to accelerate promising COVID-19 vaccine and therapy research. With $1.7 million for the first year, this award goes up to $6.5 million over a four-year period. Called the Coronavirus Vaccine and Therapeutic Evaluation Network (COVTEN), Tulane serves as the coordinating site.
What’s involved with COVTEN?
Among other things, the various centers will standardize research protocols, methods and standards associated with data collection as well as a sharing of best practices as well as agreement to cooperate with the sharing of preliminary data as well as reduce actual use of nonhuman primates by introducing the concept of the “…single control group” across studies, reports Tulane University news
Principal Investigator Point of View
Jay Rappaport, principal investigator and director of the Tulane National Primate Center, shared recently, “By establishing this structure, we will maximize work being done across the NPRC’s so that we can find answers to critical research questions with fewer animals and more rigorous controls.” He continued, “This will help us be more efficient in responding to emerging infectious diseases now and in the future. It’s an honor for Tulane to play a leading role in this by serving as the coordinating center.”
A Significant Shift
The overall move is a good one. All can agree it’s better to use less nonhuman primates for research when feasible. Given the intensity of research into COVID-19 and the fact the vaccines and therapeutics are often tested first in nonhuman primate populations, dependence on a more coordinated model leads to a more rationalized process, harmonized data, etc.