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29.07.2009


Cell doping in the lab

Medical scientists have done experiments on cells and experimental animals with a new technique that may be of interest for doping purposes. The researchers take hormone-producing cells, encapsulate them and then inject them into test animals. There the cells make, for example, testosterone.

In an article that was published in Endocrinology in 2003, research leader Anthony Atala and first author Marcelle Machluf describe an experiment they did with Leydig cells from rats' testes. Leydig cells produce testosterone. The researchers gently extracted the cells from the tissue, and then attached them to globules of the polymer alginate-poly-L-lysine. The photo below shows the globules under a microscope.


Medical scientists have done experiments on cells and experimental animals with a new technique that may be of interest for doping purposes. The researchers take hormone-producing cells, encapsulate them and then inject them into test animals. There the cells make, for example, testosterone.


The researchers performed experiments on the encapsulated cells in test tubes, and discovered that the encapsulation extended the lifespan of the Leydig cells. Ordinary cells stopped functioning after three days, but the cells in the globules researchers call them microspheres remained active for six days.

The result of giving the microspheres to rats without testes was even more impressive. The graph below shows what happens to the testosterone level after an injection of 5 million Leydig cells. That's about ten percent of the amount of Leydig cells you find in intact male rats. The Leydig cells caused a rise in the testosterone level to about forty percent of what you'd expect in intact rats.


Medical scientists have done experiments on cells and experimental animals with a new technique that may be of interest for doping purposes. The researchers take hormone-producing cells, encapsulate them and then inject them into test animals. There the cells make, for example, testosterone.


The researchers noticed raised testosterone levels up to 43 days after the implant. They also did an experiment in which they injected the cells directly into the gut. That helped for a little while.

The process still needs perfection, you read in the article. Cells probably died when encapsulation took place, and no doubt improved microspheres have been developed in the meantime. The research we are referring to probably dates from the late 1990s.

Research leader Anthony Atala was recently involved in a similar study, in which researchers performed experiments on EPO producing cells. [World J Urol. 2008 Aug;26(4):295-300.]

Source:
Endocrinology. 2003 Nov;144(11):4975-9.