Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympics Games Or Gene Games? Repoxygen

This may interest the likes of Cycling Fans Anonymous.

Repoxygen is the tradename for a type of gene therapy that induces controlled release of erythropoietin (EPO) in response to low oxygen concentration. It is has been developed by Oxford Biomedica to treat anaemia. It has been developed in mice, is still in preclinical development and has not been extensively tested in humans [Wikipedia].

What could this mean for cycling?

Sorry for the bad scan job. I was sitting in a public library while reading the latest copy of Science News, and the lighting was not the best. Alternatively, you can read the electronic article here [Finding The Golden Genes, Patrick Barry, Aug 13 2008].

Basically, using hormones and other drugs to get dope into your system could be a thing of the past. Repoxygen, although hard to obtain, uses the natural abilities of a virus to deliver a therapeutic gene to an anemic patient's DNA. That gene will have the encoded protein, erythropoetin in it. Since this gene is similar to the patient's original gene, the 'camaflouging' is hard to detect.

Endurance can also be boosted by a gene encoding a protein called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR-delta) . The scanned article as shown above, referring to studies done by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, states :

"Mice engineered to have extra copies of this gene hopped onto a treadmill and, without ever having trained, ran about twice as fast as the unaltered mice. The extra PPAR-Delta improved the ability of the mice's muscles to use fat molecules for energy, and it shifted the animal's ratio of muscle fiber types from fast twitch toward slow twitch fibers - a change that would improve muscle endurance in people as well."

As far as I have learnt in biology, fiber ratios are genetically determined. But this form of gene quirk can blow all that out of the water. Now you may not even need to exercise to up your performance.

The dark question lurks : Are any athletes using repoxygen at the Olympics?


Anonymous said...

i saw this coming long back, young man.. sad.

Anonymous said...

Winning at the Olympics pays more than ever before. Medals means fame, income and few would pass up these opportunities even if it requires a virus. The public cheers and follows the advice of winners, even corrupted ones who are "morally sick to the core".

Anonymous said...

I think the technology and know-how on gene doping is far out there as to make it likely to be used in the Olympics.

Push the big red Candylike Button said...

Yeah, morally corrupt, etc, but does anyone else read this and think it's kind of amazing? I mean, if you could tank up your car with Fuel X and get 2x the horsepower out of it, wouldn't you be mildly curious about that? I don't race, I'm not licensed, I know that cheating is tearing up all kinds of pro sports, and the downside of a treatment like this is probably the same as overclocking any piece of equipment (eventually catastrophic). But dang, I can't help but read this and think, I wonder what that would be like?

So yeah, this is going to be a huge problem.

Mehak Shaikh said...
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