First we go to News-Net Medical for a report on the search for new biomarkers, that may be useful in the anti-doping crusade. Investigators have been looking at proteins that change when exogenous HGH is administered. Biomarker detection would aid a regulatory agency like WADA when trying to detect drug cheats l ike Marion Jones, who abused HGH on the way to her discredited Olympic medals. (Update: The debate about the performance enhancing effectiveness of HGH continues on)
Researchers have found potential new biomarkers for growth hormone, which they say could help the sports community in detecting growth hormone abuse. The results of the animal study will be presented at The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
Many athletes are misusing recombinant human growth hormone, a drug intended for people who are growth hormone deficient, because of its supposed ability to decrease fat and increase muscle. However, detection remains a challenge. The growth hormone drug appears only briefly in blood and is identical to the growth hormone that the body naturally makes, said study coauthor John Kopchick, PhD, of Ohio University.
"Variability is a problem with current testing for growth hormone doping," Kopchick said. "It is gender and age-sensitive. We're looking for a test that will give standard results for everyone."
The authors are attempting to identify proteins in the blood that could be biomarkers for growth hormone action. A biomarker is a substance that can be detected in higher-than-normal amounts in the blood, urine, or body tissues and thus could be used for screening.
A bookmarker would alert authorities that doping has occurred. For instance the decrease in LH seen when testosterone is administered would be considered a biomarker.
Kopchick's group injected six male mice with growth hormone once a day for a week and also injected six male mice with saline, to serve as controls. On the eighth day they determined the protein changes in the blood of all mice.
Several proteins or their isoforms (genetic variants or protein sub-populations that are modified differently) greatly increased or decreased in the growth hormone-treated mice, compared with controls, the authors reported. They included transthyretin, clusterin, albumin, and apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA1).
If the results translate to humans, these proteins have the potential to be new biomarkers for growth hormone action, according to Kopchick. Regulatory agencies could use new biomarkers for growth hormone in their attempts to halt the abuse of this drug among athletes, he said.
"Extension of these results to humans is of paramount importance, and these studies are ongoing," he said.
The second report originated with a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, where Dr. Thomas Perls describes the huge anti-aging industry's use of HGH. Dr. Perls will point out that HGH use in Anti-aging is entirely unresearched, and potentially dangerous. To Science Daily:
Since their previous article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2005 on the clinical and legal aspects of growth hormone for anti-aging, in which researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago alerted the medical community and lay public to the deceptive mass marketing and illegal distribution of growth hormone for anti-aging and athletic enhancement, the authors provide new evidence demonstrating that these deceptive and dangerous activities have grown worse.
Remarks Dr. Thomas Perls, Director of the New England Centenarian Study and an associate professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, who has monitored the anti-aging industry for over the past ten years, "despite the overwhelming evidence that the risks and dangers of growth hormone far outweigh the clinically demonstrated insignificant benefit in normally aging individuals, the prescribing, distribution and sale of hGH for alleged anti-aging aesthetic and athletic enhancement has dramatically grown over the past few years. Clearly, the coordinated and aggressive marketing campaigns of the anti-aging and age-management industries are highly and most unfortunately effective."...
Contrary to published claims, neither long-term safety nor health benefits have been demonstrated in normally aging individuals taking hGH. A review of clinical studies among healthy, normally aging individuals found that hGH supplementation does not significantly increase muscle strength or aerobic exercise capacity. However, documented adverse effects include soft tissue edema, arthralgias (joint pains), carpal tunnel-like syndrome, gynecomastia (enlarged breasts) and insulin resistance with an elevated risk of developing diabetes. Increasingly more and more animal and laboratory studies suggest an increased cancer risk.
Dr Perls came up with the following recommendations:
The authors suggest that several measures need to be taken to address the inappropriate distribution and use of hGH.
Among their recommendations:
- The public must be accurately informed by physicians and scientists who do not have a vested interest in hGH, about health risks, fraudulent marketing and illegal distribution of this drug.
- Organizations that promote or indirectly profit from the medically inappropriate and illegal distribution of hGH that have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to offer American Medical Association Physician Recognition Award (PRA) category 1 CME credits or other categories of CME credit should, at a minimum, have their accreditation revoked.
- U.S. manufacturers of hGH must be more effective in, and held accountable for, controlling the distribution of the drug to companies providing the drug for illegal uses.
- Congressional hearings and media attention surrounding hGH should focus less on athletes and prominent entertainers who are also victims of deceptive marketing and pushing of hGH, and much more on the distributors who are violating federal and state laws by making the drug available for non-approved uses.