How synthetic biology could fight athletic doping with ‘biosensors’

3-31-2019 unnamed file
Lance Armstrong. Image: Franck Fife/Agence France-Presse

It’s no secret that sports suffer from doping, the use of banned substances that enhance athletic performance. From Lance Armstrong being stripped of his Tour de France titles to Russia’s doping scandal during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, no sport seems to be left untouched by athletes driven to cheat.

Enter biosensors. Biosensors are analytical devices that can be used to detect chemical substances.

Alexandrov lab postdoc Jason Whitfield explained the process this way:

“…Essentially, they built a molecular on/off switch into the enzyme that can be activated by another molecule, such as a steroid or growth factor. So now, using an almost identical system to the glucometer, we are able to measure a completely different target substance.”

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With this approach, testing athletes for banned substances could be as easy — and cheap — as testing blood sugar levels. Point-of-care type detection methods like this would make it much easier to enforce anti-doping measures and may prove a stronger deterrent to athletes who currently bet on the low odds of detection offered by current methods and testing strategies.

Read full, original post: Can synthetic biology usher in the next generation of anti-doping measures?

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