Horses that gallop a bit too fast
21 November 2006
Horses that gallop a bit faster than they should due to injection of designer steroids can now be identified thanks to Australian scientists.
The news is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry.
Designer steroids are so called because they are tailor-made to avoid standard methods of detection.
Dr Malcolm McLeod and a team at the University of Sydney, Australia, have overcome this problem using a technique called ELISA (enzyme-linked immuno sorbent assay).
They have developed the technique to specifically target the new classes of designer steroids - such as tetrahydrogestrinone - and can accurately analyse urine samples on race day to identify the 'guilty' horses.
Steroid metabolites can be detected by ELISA
Such designer steroids contain a part known as the "D-ring" - and the technique detects this D-ring once the original steroid has been broken down in the horse's body.
Dr McLeod said: "We are about to develop a range of other assays for steroid detection for agents that are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Federation of Horseracing Authorities."
He added: "With the rapid advances in mass spectrometry, there is a growing emphasis on the direct detection of these metabolites to identify drug abuse.
"We work in the field of drug detection in horses, but the issues are very similar to those confronting drug testing in human sports."
with thanks to Elinor Richards for the original article.
N L Hungerford, A R McKinney, A M Stenhouse and M D McLeod, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2006
Detecting designer steroids used to cheat in horse racing and other sports has been made easier thanks to Australian scientists.
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