To develop a methodology for the detection of use and abuse of exogenously administered. Growth Hormone and related substances, particularly in relation to sport.
To develop a validation methodology sufficiently robust to withstand legal challenge and allow prosecution and conviction of those illegally using Growth Hormone.
To develop the ethical and legal framework to control and deal effectively with growth hormone abuse
Growth hormone is a naturally occurring hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. Its effects include an anabolic action, to increase lean body mass and reduce fat mass. These properties have led to its abuse by athletes body builders and even schoolchildren who inject biosynthetic growth hormone in order to try to enhance their physical appearance and performance. This abuse seems likely to increase, not only because biosynthetic growth hormone will become more easily available and less expensive, but also because, in contrast to synthetic anabolic steroids, its use cannot be detected by current dope testing. Growth-hormone abuse leads to unfair competition and puts the recipients at risk of adverse effects. More worryingly, some athletes may be using illicit growth hormone derived from human pituitary tissue rather than by biosynthetic means leading to risk of infection with the agent responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal condition affecting the central nervous system.
This project is designed to develop a reliable methodology for the detection of the misuse of exogenous growth hormone. It involves collaboration between, i) 4 clinical academic centres (London, Göteborg, Aarhus and Naples) who are all leading experts in peptide hormone research and in particular the use of growth hormone in various disease states, ii) the Industrial Partners (Pharmacia and Novo Nordisk) who are 2 of the world's largest producers of growth hormone and iii) The International Olympic Committee which is the focus of the International Sports Authorities and through it's Sub-Commission "Doping and Biochemistry in Sport", creates, accredits and maintains an international network of laboratories which provide the main thrust for the detection of doping in sport.
These partners, along with various state of the art subcontractors will combine and co-ordinate their considerable expertise to carry out a series of detailed physiological and pharmacological studies in athletes in order to devise a means of reliably detecting exogenous growth hormone administration and then to implement this testing both in and out of competition to prevent this form of abuse. The methodology will be commercialised by the pharmaceutical partners and will be introduced as routine methodology in the network of IOC laboratories. This work will also contribute to the closer collaboration between the clinical partners strengthening their position as leaders in peptide hormone research and will add considerably to the state of knowledge surrounding the physiology of growth hormone.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
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