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Gene Doping - Techniques, Effects and Ethics

BY: Nidhi Uppangala | Category: Issues | Submitted: 2010-05-27 22:17:33
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Article Summary: "Gene Doping can be defines as the non therapeutic use of gene, genetic elements or artificially changing gene expression to enhance athletic performance. Gene or DNA used to increase the muscle strength and capacity of athletes is known as gene doping..."


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Introduction:

Gene Doping can be defines as the non therapeutic use of gene, genetic elements or artificially changing gene expression to enhance athletic performance. Gene or DNA used to increase the muscle strength and capacity of athletes is known as gene doping.

Scientists predict that the gene doping will be a big issue during 2012 Olympics. Scientists believe that right now no athletes are using gene doping but the truth is that we still don't have the techniques to detect the gene doping. But the good news is that research is going on to find the techniques to detect the gene doping.

Techniques used in Gene Doping:

1. A synthetic gene like which increase the synthesis of muscle fiber are added into the vector (viral vector or delivery vehicle).
2. Vectors will carry the gene into cell and genes are delivered into the nucleus. Genes will give all the required chemical signals to activate the production of muscle fiber protein.
3. In normal muscle repair protein called IGF-1 (like Growth Factor-1) gives signals to satellite cell proliferate. Another gene known as myostatin tells them to stop.
4. Introducing IGF-1 gene or protein that blocks the signal to satellite cell from myostatin can be used in gene doping to enhance the muscle fiber.
5. Erythropoietin plays a major role in production of red blood cells. Therefore this erythropoietin gene can also be used in gene doping as it will increase the oxygen supply to the muscles. So that athletes can perform much better.
6. Increasing the expression of fat burning protein known as peroxisome proliferator -activated receptor-δ will increase the type-1 muscle fiber in athletes.
7. Therefore scientists consider IGF-1, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-δ and erythropoietin genes as the potential candidate for gene doping.

Effect:

Gene doping is very dangerous it may be fatal. It involves the gene delivery system like viruses; these may cause some health issues in the user. Also gene delivered may be incorporated in between some of the important gene, may lead to some disorders or even cancer. But unfortunately some athletes don't mind taking these huge risks.

Law and Ethics:

World anti-doping agency in 2003 prohibited gene doping. Many sports governing bodies have also banned the use of gene doping by athletes. Therefore gene doping is against the law.

The professional ethics are violated by the scientists or doctors who inject genes into a healthy individual.

Gene doping may be accessible to some athletes, it is unfair on part of other athletes. Gene doping will change the meaning of sports.

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