2014 Volume 63 Issue 4 Pages 367-374
Tupaias, or tree shrews, are small mammals that are similar in appearance to squirrels. The morphological and behavioral characteristics of the group have been extensively characterized, and despite previously being classified as primates, recent studies have placed the group in its own family, the Tupaiidae. Genomic analysis has revealed that the genus Tupaia is closer to humans than it is to rodents. In addition, tupaias are susceptible to hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus. The only other experimental animal that has been demonstrated to be sensitive to both of these viruses is the chimpanzee, but restrictions on animal testing have meant that experiments using chimpanzees have become almost impossible. Consequently, the development of the tupaia for use as an animal infection model could become a powerful tool for hepatitis virus research and in preclinical studies on drug development.