Pig-Tailed Macaques as a Preclinical Animal Model for Understanding Viral Reactivation and Evaluating Drug Therapies

Technology Overview

HHV-6 and HHV-7, roseoloviruses within the Betaherpesvirus family, have a high prevalence and suspected associations numerous diseases. Although primary infection occurs frequently during early childhood, there are generally no severe complications unless active viral replication occurs, most often in immunocompromised hosts, such as transplant patients. Currently there are no established assays for detecting viral reactivation, and no validated treatment protocol has been established to prevent or treat these reactivation events.

Dr. Serge Barcy

Dr. Serge Barcy

Dr. Serge Barcy has recently identified and begun to characterize two new homologs of HHV-6 and HHV-7 which naturally infect pig-tailed macaques. He has already reported that the blood prevalence and tissue tropism of MneHV6 and MneHV7 are similar to that seen with HHV6 and HHV7 in humans. Using these animals as a nonhuman primate model of HHV-6 and HHV-7 natural infection, the Barcy Lab plans to determine the natural viral reservoir, assess viral reactivation, study the cytokine profiles associated with viral reactivation, evaluate the involvement of the peripheral nervous system and test the efficacy of drugs in controlling reactivation. As these animals are naturally coinfected, synergy between these two viruses can also be studied. Specific reagents and assays are available to examine and characterize not only roseolovirus infections but also infections with other viral pathogens including the macaque homologs of CMV, EBV, HPV’s and adenoviruses, allowing for testing of new anti-viral agents with a broad spectrum of activity. Furthermore, having an animal model provides an opportunity to test the feasibility of targeting the viral reservoir with immunotherapy including CAR T cell based strategy.

In addition to primary infections that occur mainly through viral transmission in saliva, HHV-6 can be inherited through the germline via chromosomally integrated copies (ciHHV-6). The resulting high copy numbers and high viral loads present additional challenges to patients and clinicians. The development of an assay which can distinguish this subpopulation of patients, particularly in the context of transplantation, would be clinically beneficial.

Barcy would be interested in industry collaborations where his animal model could be used to develop diagnostic assays for measuring viral reactivation and to test potential viral therapeutics and immunotherapies.

Stage of Development

  • Pre-clinical in vivo

Partnering Opportunities

  • Collaborative research opportunity
  • Sponsored research agreement
  • Consultation agreement
  • Tissue sample access


  1. Staheli JP, Dyen MR, Lewis P, Barcy S. Discovery and biological characterization of two novel pig-tailed macaque homologs of HHV-6 and HHV-7. Virology. 2014; 471-473:126-40.
  2. Staheli JP, Dyen MR, Deutsch GH, Bascom RS, Fitzgibbon MP, Lewis P, Barcy S. Complete unique genome sequence, expression profile and salivary gland tissue tropism of the herpesvirus-7 homolog in pigtailed macaques. Journal of Virology, in press. Reference: JVI.00651-16

Learn More

To learn more about partnering with Seattle Children’s Research Institute on this or other projects, please contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Aylward, Director
Office of Science-Industry Partnerships
Seattle Children's Research Institute
818 Stewart St, Suite 603, M/S 818-S 
Seattle, WA 98101