A Brief Review of Epogen
Epogen is a glycoprotein made up of 165 amino acids that is used to stimulate the production of red blood cells. The compound is manufactured through recombinant DNA technology. The compound has a molecular weight equal to 30,400 Daltons. When consumed, its biological effects are similar to those of endogenous erythropoietin. The dugs formulation is a sterile colorless liquid in a buffered solution. It is administered intravenously or subcutaneously. This drug is used by athlete to enhance their performance. This is by producing more red blood cells and opening up lung passages so that more oxygen is delivered to the muscles. Endurance athletes use the drug to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of their red blood cells, thereby supplying their muscles with more oxygen for a longer period of time (Ghigo, Lanfranco &Christian 87).
Dimerization of the erythropoietin occurs when erythropoietin binds to its receptor. This causes the activation of Janus kinase/ signal transducer and activator of transcription (Jak-Stat) signaling pathway that is located in the cytosol. When activated, the proteins in the signal transducer and activator of transcription move to the nucleus through translocation where they act as transcription factors. In this manner, they regulate how specific genes that are involved in differentiation or cell division are activated (Bardal, Jason & Douglas208).
Detection of Epogen in Human Specimens
Since the Olympics in Sydney in the year 2000, testing of Epogen in athletes has evolved. The two main ways in which it has been tested is through the use of urine and blood samples. However, the use of urine samples has been validated and referred to as more reliable in comparison with the use of blood samples. This is because erythropoietin is also produced in the kidneys of the human body and hence present in the human blood. The use of blood samples entailed indirect tests because unlike the urine tests that show the presence of the recombinant drug, blood tests showed the foot prints of the drug (Berova 64). This implies that blood tests could show the presence of natural EPO in the human specimen.
For the detection of Epogen in human specimens, I find it most appropriate to use Isoelectric Focusing technique using a urine sample. However, instead of using an isoelectric focusing gel in the separation of natural EPO and recombinant EPO, Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate should be used. During the sample preparation, other proteins present in the urine aggregate together with any present EPO in a small sub-sample. During the Isoelectric focusing, EPO forms are spread out in the gel together with other proteins (Delanghe1& Joyner 49).
This method is very reliable and saves on cost and time because it tests for the recombinant EPO directly (Thieme &Peter 201). Firstly, it does not require other confirmatory tests because it directly identifies the recombinant EPO in urine samples. Additionally, this approach can tell between natural EPO and artificial EPO. This lowers the chances of athletes being wrongly victimized. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry can also be employed on urine and blood samples in order to detect abuse of EPO by athletes. When mass spectrometry is used, the sample, either blood or urine is hit with an electron beam thereby accelerating the fragments down a magnetic tube to a detector. Each substance has a characteristic pattern that identifies it. These results are compared against standard samples for quantification and identification of the drugs in the sample.
Bardal, Stan K, Jason E. Waechter, and Douglas S. Martin. Applied Pharmacology. St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier/Saunders, 2011. Print.
Berova, Nina. Comprehensive Chiroptical Spectroscopy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012. Print.
Delanghe1, J.R. & Joyner, J.M. Testing for recombinant human erythropoietin. Journal of Applied Physiology. 105. 2 (2008): 395-396. Web. 20. Oct. 2013.
Ghigo, E, Fabio Lanfranco, and Christian J. Strasburger. Hormone Use and Abuse by Athletes. New York: Springer, 2011. Print
Thieme, Detlef, and Peter Hemmersbach. Doping in Sports. Berlin: Springer, 2010. Print.