New Growth Hormone Test And Positive Findings From UK Research

Following ten years of research by the GH-2004 team, based at the University of Southampton, a new test for growth hormone has been developed and implemented.

With funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency and US Anti-Doping Agency, and supported by UK Anti-Doping, this test was used for the first time by King’s College London analysts at the anti-doping laboratory for  the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, leading to two Paralympic findings. It is based on the measurement of two proteins in the blood, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and the amino terminal pro-peptide of type III collagen (P-III-NP). Both the proteins that act as markers of the use of growth hormone lead to an increase in response to GH.

The work of the GH-2004 project built on previous research from the GH-2000 team which was a consortium of leading growth hormone experts from London, Gothenberg, Aarhus, and Naples, in partnership with the two European growth hormone manufacturers (Novo Nordisk and Pharmacia) and statisticians from the University of Kent and was mainly funded by the European Union under their Biomed 2 Program (BMH4 CT950678) and the International Olympic Committee.

Growth hormone, also known as somatotropin or somatropin, is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and regeneration in humans and other animals. GH is used as a prescription drug in medicine to treat children’s growth disorders and adult growth hormone deficiency.

The International Paralympic Committee, on September 8, 2012, made an announcement that two Powerlifters had received two year suspensions for Anti-Doping Rule Violations involving growth hormone following an adverse laboratory finding using the new markers test.

Richard Holt, Professor in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Southampton said we are pleased to have another and more effective and reliable means to catch cheats and help deter harmful drug misuse. Holt added that there has been a tremendous amount of team work to develop this test and he is delighted that this dedication has finally succeeded and thanked the World Anti-Doping Agency, US Anti-Doping, and UK Anti-Doping for their support and trust in the work.

Head of the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London and Director of the anti-doping laboratory for the Games, Professor David Cowan, said these findings prove that the years of research have been worthwhile. He added this has been one of the most complex scientific projects, in partnership with Southampton University and Kent University, the Drug Control Centre at King’s has been involved in and added that to be able to carry out this test at this year’s Games is a huge achievement as it represents a big step forward in staying at the forefront of anti-doping science, to help deter drug misuse in sport.

UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive, Andy Parkinson, remarked continual improvement in testing science is fundamental to the global anti-doping movement, ensuring that sophisticated dopers are caught and those at a tipping point are deterred and expressed his delight that this UK developed test, which his team has been closely involved with, was used at the 2012 Paralympic Games to such good effect.

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