This evening All Things Considered reported on National Public Radio a unique example of data sharing involving a pregnant monkey infected with the Zika virus.
Researchers, Dave O’Connor and Thomas Friedrich at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) are exploring how the virus can affect the development of the brain of a monkey fetus.
NPR reported that O’Connor feels “a moral need to do this kind of animal research.” He was motivated to do this work while on a recent visit to Brazil where he saw pregnant women potentially at risk for Zika’s devastating neurological birth defects. “I’ve come to the conclusion that there is an ethical and a moral imperative to study the most relevant animal model to get the most impactful and valuable data,” NPR quoted O’Connor as saying.
Significantly, O’Connor and Friedrich are releasing their data immediately to get advice and input from fellow researchers around the world.
This is a unique example of “open source” research warranted by the public health emergency that Zika represents, and may be model for research in the future.