Peptides are a revolution. Research led to major breakthroughs and new discoveries in the field only a few years ago and are already starting to make their way in the world of sports and doping.
Estimated reading time : 3 minutes
Historically, man has tried to improve physical performance, to excel. Doping history by thousands of athletes is concrete evidence of the phenomenon.
All major sporting competitions of the modern era have had their share of “scandals”: the Tour de France, the Olympics, football, baseball… Doping was already present even in the Antiquity. The first examples, described by Greek authors, date back to six centuries before J-C.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has evolved along with the methods of doping themselves to make reliable and dissuasive controls.
These intensified checks, combined with significant side effects of products such as anabolic steroids, had the effect of discouraging many professional athletes to resort to doping substances. Body culture has also become one of the #1 sporting priorities, where, the use of such products will no longer be taboo .
This suggests that the World Anti Doping Agency has been worried about an increase in the number of athletes involved, but mainly about of a new generation of undetectable products: peptides (or peptide hormones).
Peptides, what are they?
Peptides are molecules synthesized naturally by the body. These peptide hormones are in fact “messengers” that will cause the production of new hormones, such as testosterone for example. More commonly known as “peptide bonds”, a peptide is a polymer of amino acids linked together.
Peptides are molecules created by joining two or more amino acids. They are present in all living cells and have a variety of biochemical activities. In general, if the number of amino acids is less than fifty, these molecules are called peptides. Large sequences are called proteins. Thus, Peptides can be considered as tiny proteins that are simply chains of amino acids.
Peptides are a revolution. Research led scientists there only a few years and peptides are starting to make its way in the world of sport and doping.
A molecule for every sport.
Gene doping is based on extensive research in gene therapy.
In order to find ways to restore muscle growth in people with muscular dystrophy, the doctor Se-Jin Lee’s team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA) in 2007, carried out a dual genetic modification on mice, which then produced more Follistatin – a hormone that promotes muscle growth – and less Myostatin – a protein that limits it.
The result: literally bodybuilt rodents that show 4 times greater muscular development than that of normal animals.
Working on the PPAR gene, Johan Auwerx’s team from EPFL recently created mice that run around not faster, but 2 times longer. And that’s not all: 165 other genes that improve athletic performance were counted by sports physicians of the Technische Universität München.
There is therefore a step to imagine a full range of genetic techniques adapted to each sport based on specific required skills (endurance, strength, speed …) to increase the performance of athletes.
Undetectable molecules, the WADA delicacy.
Recognizing the enormous potential of this method, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has anticipated the move. In 2003, it has registered gene doping on the official list of “doping substances and methods prohibited“.
WADA finances various research including from several programs to try to develop methods for reliable detection tests. Indeed, as Bengt Kayser pointed:
“For now, we do not know very well how to detect gene doping. The desired product is often very similar to the substance produced by the body and therefore indistinguishable from naturally occurring molecules. “
Specialized laboratories always go further.
Peptides are therefore now considered doping products, virtually undetectable and bringing surprising results if we are to believe some users
(Vincent Testimony, amateur cyclist: “Since I discovered peptides, I only take that because it comes with any risk of being tested positive during doping controls. But especially because it has no side effects unlike conventional doping products such as EPO or steroids that I used to use “).
Some laboratories have gone even further in research and now offer a mix of peptides. They combine two peptides to create a combined effect, even more powerful than if these two peptides were taken separately.
This is the case of the laboratory Lifetech Labs based in Hong Kong that produces this new generation of peptides.
Lifetech Labs has even received an award for their research..
Awarded with the “Best Innovative Concept 2014” prize at the “International Conference and Exhibition of the Modernization of Medicines and Health Products” this laboratory, with its wide range of products caters to a diverse clientèle.
This ranges from muscle and tendon recovery to weight training, anti-aging, weight loss …
Athletes are no longer the only ones to benefit from peptides and you can easily imagine these products benefiting everyone.
Research keeps two steps ahead of the controls.
With this new product type, doping is not ready to disappear. Indeed, until now, athletes feared a suspension and a heavy fine for positive control. But with this new type of doping called “genetic” that is virtually undetectable, there’s a safe bet that many of them will move toward these new methods.
WADA will have to double their efforts in order to continue to fight effectively against this new form of doping and thus ensuring healthy and fair competition. If it does not succeed then we will see probably a lot of world records fall one after the other.
Another solution would be to authorize this type of doping so that all athletes have the same opportunities.
What do you think ?
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