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  • Bond takes the lead in anti-doping research

    Author: HealthTimes

Bond University will continue to lead the way in anti-doping research after Associate Professor Lotti Tajouri and Associate Professor Bon Gray were awarded an internationally-competitive grant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The research group, which also includes Professor Matt Brown, director of genomics at QUT, has been granted $US100,000 to explore changes in gene expression as an indication of the use of human growth hormone (GH).

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The project, which will take a next generation sequencing approach to testing for the anabolic aid, will build on the results of the group’s previous research that was funded by WADA in 2012 and the Australian Anti-Doping Research Program in 2007.

The WADA grant is one of only approximately 20 awarded annually world-wide and one of only a handful scooped up by Australian researchers.

Associate Professor Tajouri  said WADA was throwing its support behind the project because it was an advanced way of testing for GH use by athletes that aimed to find indicators of it in the body for at least  four weeks.

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"Current testing methods attempt to measure GH levels in the body but can only detect the substance up to a day and a half after its use," he said.

"We are trying to get that window of detection out to a minimum of four weeks by looking for indicators of use, rather than measuring levels of GH in the blood.

“Our group is developing a different approach to testing by focussing on the identification  of specific drug signatures. We will profile global cellular gene expressions in search of drug-specific molecular regulators associated specifically with the doping substance.”

Associate Professor Tajouri  said one of the obstacles in detecting human growth hormone, which is on the WADA prohibited list, was that it occurred naturally in the body.

"The version used to enhance performance is produced artificially but it's very similar to the naturally-occurring GH, which is why it is so hard to accurately detect," he said.

"The project will use some of the most advanced techniques of molecular biology to investigate a new approach in detecting artificial GH in the body to help ensure the integrity of competitive sport world-wide."

Associate Professor Tajouri said his previous studies had identified that GH left a 'footprint' in the form of alterations in gene expression.

He said the new study was a further advance on this research that would utilise ground-breaking sequencing techniques to identify indicators of GH use in the blood.

"We are trying to find the very best signal we can that indicates people have taken GH," he said.

"In our previous studies we looked at the gene expression inside white cells, but the new project will look at markers of gene expression outside the cells, in the blood.

"Once we analyse the data from both studies, we will be able to see which provides  the strongest, and most accurate indicators. It could be solely inside the white cells, solely outside the white cells, or a combination of both."

Associate Professor Gray  said project collaborator, Professor Matt Brown, was a world leader in genomic research and would enhance the research team

"This project is pairing Professor Brown’s expertise in genomics with Bond's expertise in anti-doping research and exercise science to develop a new test for GH," he said.

"Bond is a global force in anti-doping research and is leading the way in the teaching of, and research related to, the molecular biology of exercise.

"This international reputation as a leader in these fields opens doors for students and the University's unique Exercise and Sports Science program provides opportunities for undergraduates to gain experience in research projects such as this, while post-graduates have the knowledge and skills to peruse research in these areas."

Bond University will host an anti-doping conference on April 5-6 2017, bringing together leading experts from around the world to discuss key issues in the fight against doping in sport.

The conference will hear from several highly-respected international speakers, including WADA Scientific Deputy Director, Dr Osquel Barroso, from Canada, and WADA Gene and Cell Doping Expert Committee Chair and Japan Prize (2015) recipient, Professor Theodore Friedman.

Other speakers include athletes, ASADA, lawyers, commercial agencies and medical researchers, who will collectively engage in discussions on how to combat critical issues in the industry from legal, regulatory, scientific and commercial perspectives.

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