Testing For EPO: The Performance Enhancing Drug

31 Jul 2012
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GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ ImageQuant™ LAS4000, a biomolecular imager, is playing a crucial role in the testing process for recombinant erythropoietin. Better known as EPO, recombinant erythropoietin is a performance enhancing drug that can be used to boost the number of red blood cells enabling vastly improved oxygen flow, increasing an athletes’ endurance.

The EPO test will be one of many undertaken during the Games at the new Anti-Doping Science Centre in Harlow, Essex - the most advanced drug testing laboratory in the history of the Olympics. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is the Official Laboratory Services Provider for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games and will provide facilities and equipment to enable expert analysts from King’s College London to independently operate a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory during the London 2012 Games.

The leader of the new laboratory is Professor David Cowan, Director of the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London. Christiaan Bartlett, a Certifying Analyst working with Professor Cowan, commented: “Usually we test approximately 7,000 samples a year but during the Olympic Games, we will test 5,000 samples in just 17 days and around 1250 samples during the Paralympic Games. The advances in digital imaging in the last 10 years means the LAS4000 can capture a high quality image with great sensitivity, and with short exposure times. Along with GE Healthcare electrophoresis and Western blotting equipment, the ImageQuant™ technology provides us with extremely detailed information. This will help us to accurately identify doping with recombinant EPO and help protect the rights of the clean athlete to compete on a level playing field.”

Johan von Heijne, Head of Research Products at GE Healthcare Life Sciences said: “We’re delighted that our ImageQuant™ has been chosen by Professor Cowan and his team at the Olympic anti-doping laboratory as a key part of their work there.”

In addition to being integral to the testing process for London 2012, ImageQuant™ is used by a number of World Anti-Doping Agency accredited laboratories. It is also used by scientists worldwide to support research into the next generation of drug therapies.

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