In the 'what will they think of next' category falls this story from the Saratogian.com. Appears there is a horse doping scandal at the big race track in New York. In the past we reported on steroids found in trotters and sprinters. Saratoga is focusing on two other drugs: cobra venom (CTX) and an EPO-like compound.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Veterinarians, trainers and horse owners have been subpoenaed for an investigation into alleged horse-doping at Saratoga Gaming & Raceway, according to a published report.
The New York Post said Monday that horses were injected with painkilling cobra venom and Epogen, a drug that produces red blood-cells, increasing oxygen levels to make horses go faster.
Epogen would increase the number of red blood cells, increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of the horse's circulatory system.
Cobra venom? For pain? Reports indicate this is true. The cobra toxin, CTX, can produce a long term opioid-like analgesic effect that is mediated through central cholinergic activity, not opioid receptors. We would suspect that this compound would also avoid detection by anti-doping tests, tests that would nail an opioid in the horse's system.
In the end this could be deadly. The venom disrupts the neuromuscular junctions involved in human respiration by reacting with the receptor sites in place of the acetylcholine molecules, thus blocking the receptor sites. That would effectively shut down the horses lungs. (a curare-like action to paralyze the muscles of respiration)
t's believed that cobra venom, which blocks pain, was obtained from sources in Florida, the newspaper said. The substance can be injected directly over a nerve or into a horse's joint to deaden pain.
Epogen is designed to treat anemia for people with chronic kidney ailments on dialysis or cancer patients. The prescription drug was developed by Amgen of Thousand Oaks, Calif. and can only be taken as an injection.
By the way, more investigations into harness racing doping, reported here.
BTW, a bunch of cobras is referred to as a 'quiver'.