A state-run think tank on biotechnology said Thursday that it will breed as many as 3,000 nonhuman primates at a colony to be built by the end of next year in a bid to ensure a stable supply of the animals for the country's biomedical research.
The state-run Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology held a groundbreaking ceremony to construct the Support Center for Nonhuman Primates Resources on a site of 72,000 square meters in the southwestern city of Jeongeup. The institute will pour 18.5 billion won ($16 million) into the construction project.
The establishment of the primate breeding colony is aimed at mass-producing resources of high-quality, specific pathogen-free nonhuman primates to address South Korea's increasing demand for such animals.
South Korea has relied entirely on imports for its nonhuman primate needs as it faces a high demand for the animals required for the testing of pharmaceutical products and vaccines, research on pandemics such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and brain research.
The facility plans to introduce mother nonhuman primates in phases and come up with a system to mass-breed them before providing domestic access to them without relying on imports.
It has drawn up a plan to supply 50 nonhuman primates to related laboratories by 2021 and 700, which is half of the country's demand, by 2025.
Chang Kyu-tae, chief of the institute, said there has been concern over industrial technologies being drawn out of the country as many companies have asked overseas bodies to test new drugs on nonhuman primates.
"We hope the domestic supply of nonhuman primates will contribute to the country's development of new drugs and vaccines and its clinical research on anti-aging, brain science and regenerative medicine," Chang said. (Yonhap)