The use of steroids in sports has long been a source of controversy. From basketball to football to cycling to running – drug testing is as much part of the game as regular training and exercise. I suppose that the desire to be better and to come out on top just overwhelms common sense in some people.
Anyhow, if things go the way the researchers at Quotient Bioresearch want, we could soon see testing done on horses as well. Not that this is not happening already – indeed horses are already being tested to ensure that no illegal drugs are being used on them to increase their performance. What the researchers Quotient Bioresearch are doing is to look at different indicators to determine if doping has occurred.
The approach developed by the Quotient Bioresearch team uses LC-MS/MS for the targeted analysis of proteotypic peptides. Peptides produced by enzymatic hydrolysis of a protein act as quantitative surrogates. Liquid chromatography separates the peptides, which are then monitored by tandem mass spectrometry using multiple reaction monitoring.
Because protein identification and quantitation are performed separately and only a well-defined set of peptides is studied in each quantitation experiment, the approach leads to higher quality data, according to the researchers. In combination with isotopically labeled peptide internal standards, the approach also was shown to be “highly accurate and reproducible with quantitative results comparable to that of clinical analyzers,” the researchers added.
I know – it is such a jumble of technical terms, isn’t it? I am no scientist but from what I understand, they are looking at the changes that happen in the body of a horse that has been doped, and not at the presence of the doping agent itself. This is reliable because the traces of drugs may disappear faster but the biological effects will last longer.