News from across RSC Publishing.
Detecting designer steroids
20 November 2006
Detecting designer steroids used to cheat in horse racing and other sports has been made easier thanks to Australian scientists.
Designer steroids are often tailored to evade standard methods of detection. So Malcolm McLeod and colleagues from the University of Sydney, New South Wales, have used a technique called ELISA (enzyme-linked immuno sorbent assay) to overcome this problem. ELISA is used in the sport of horse racing by the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory as a preliminary screen to detect metabolites produced by steroids in race-day urine samples. Now, the team has further developed ELISA to target the new class of designer steroids, such as tetrahydrogestrinone, only three of which have been identified to date.
Steroid metabolites can be detected by ELISA
The method uses antibodies to detect the D-ring of the metabolites (see picture) produced by these types of steroids, rather than the steroid itself, which is largely broken down in the body.
'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,' said McLeod. With the rapid advances in mass spectrometry, there is a growing emphasis on the direct detection of these metabolites to identify drug abuse, he said.
'We work in the field of drug detection in horses, but the issues are very similar to those confronting drug testing in human sports,' said McLeod.
N L Hungerford, A R McKinney, A M Stenhouse and M D McLeod, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2006