Sports cheats beware – new test detects previously undetectable drug. ‘Injecting performance enhancing corticosteroid hormones for other than medical treatment is banned, and tests exist that can detect injected hormones. Injecting synacthen, which stimulates the body to produce extra amounts of its own corticosteroid hormones is also banned. But until now there has been no test that could detect it in a blood sample.
That has just changed. Research published this week in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry describes a method that can detect synacthen, even though it will only be found in incredibly low concentrations in a person’s blood sample. Synacthen is a protein, and scientists have developed a method that can specifically search for the minute traces of synacthen in a blood sample. Called immunological purification, this technique can find any synacthen molecules even though its concentration is 10,000,000 less than other proteins in blood plasma.’
Synacthen – How does it work?. ‘Tetracosactide (previously known as tetracosactrin in the UK) is a synthetic analogue of the naturally-occurring hormone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). In the normal situation, ACTH is released from the pituitary gland in the brain. It acts on the adrenal glands to stimulate the production of steroid hormones (glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, and, to a lesser extent, androgens (male sex hormones). If the adrenal glands are healthy, a single injection of tetracosactide results in a rise in blood cortisol (hydrocortisone) concentrations in 30 minutes.’