Scientists at the universities in Tübingen and Mainz have developed a test that can provide conclusive proof of gene doping.
"For the first time, a direct method is now available that uses conventional blood samples to detect doping via gene transfer and is still effective if the actual doping took place up to 56 days before," Professor Perikles Simon, MD, PhD from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany explained on Thursday.
"This represents a relatively low-cost method of detecting several of the most common doping genes," Simon stated in the presentation of the process. It was previously impossible to prove that an athlete had undergone gene doping. "The process of inserting individual genes in specific body cells stems from the idea of curing severe illnesses with this new technology.
It was previously thought that it would only be possible to detect gene doping via gene transfer using an extremely costly indirect test procedure from the field of molecular medicine," explained gene therapist Professor Michael Bitzer, MD from the University Hospital of the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen.
The gene doping study conducted by the scientists from Tübingen and Mainz was published in the online edition of the internationally renowned scientific journal "Gene Therapy" on Thursday. According to the study, the test provides clear "yes-or-no answers" based on whether or not so-called transgenic DNA is present in blood samples. Transgenic DNA or tDNA does not stem from the person being tested but has been transferred into their body – often via viruses – in order to create performance-enhancing substances such as erythropoetin (EPO) for forming red blood cells. "The body of a gene-doped athlete produces the performance-enhancing hormones itself without having to introduce any foreign substances to the body. Over time, the body becomes its own doping supplier," explained Simon. In 2006, as a member of the University Hospital in Tübingen, he developed a procedure that enables even the tiniest traces of transgenic DNA to be detected in the blood. The efficiency of this procedure has now been proven for the first time in laboratory mice. A key component of the animal procedure was a sophisticated process that was able to insert the foreign genetic material extremely specifically to the muscles around a small puncture area.
This triggers excess production of a hormone, which prompts the generation of new blood vessels. Even two months after the genes were injected into the muscles, researchers were able to differentiate clearly between the mice subjected to gene doping and those that were not. "The development of a reliable method for detecting misuse of gene transfer will be used to ensure that this new technology, for which the side effects are only partially known, is used exclusively in the treatment of severe diseases," stated Bitzer. Over the next few months, the University Hospital in Tübingen is planning a relevant therapy study for advanced tumor patients.
The safe and sensitive detection procedure developed by the scientists in Mainz and Tübingen was then proven in a so-called specificity test on 327 blood samples taken from professional and recreational athletes. Researchers now believe that athletes will no longer profit from the misuse of gene therapy for doping purposes. "At the very least, the risk of being discovered months after the gene transfer has taken place should deter even the most daring dopers," Simon believes. The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has financed this research over the past four years with a total of 980,000 US Dollars.
Petra Giegerich | idw
Hunting pathogens at full force
22.03.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
A 155 carat diamond with 92 mm diameter
22.03.2017 | Universität Augsburg
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences