Peptides are not a problem. Peptides are amino acids linked together and peptides make-up proteins, essential building blocks of life.
Every protein has a very specific structure, based on the interaction of the molecule with itself. Proteins bend, fold, twist and loop in a a very unique way. The form a protein takes allows it to act as a hormone or drug.
This exclusive shape acts like a key in a lock and opens the door for a biochemical process.
A hormone controls red-blood production, therefore creates an artificial drug and then uses it to boost red blood production therefore stamina.
Presto – EPO-alpha!
The new peptide controversy gripping the AFL is that some fragments of human hormone. or proteins called ‘peptides’, act as growth factors and can deliver a performance-enhancing affect.
Growth Factors like EPO and growth hormone are full length proteins acting as hormones that have long been know as performance enhancing drugs.
The history of EPO and HGH is well documented. The difference with the new ‘class’ peptides is that the pharmacological activity is derived from fragments of proteins/hormones.
For example hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) or HIF prolyl-hydroxylase inhibitor is responsible for the body’s response to hypoxia and produces EPO and therefore red blood cell production.
(If you are really keen check out info, have a look here.)
One HIF, HIF-1 belongs to the PER-ARNT-SIM (PAS) subfamily of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) family of transcription factors. This means it’s a part of a part.
By the way these ‘parts’ exist on many other proteins. To get a bit more complicated, so as to understand the action of peptides more, you need to understand these peptide factors turn on genes along your DNA in your genome.
So you don’t give a ‘drug’ any more you give a subunit of a naturally occurring protein/hormone and that turns on the gene. Before you know it, your hemocrit level (red blood cell level) is the same as a Tibetan Sherpa.
Sports scientist Stephen Dank administered Lipotropin (AOD-9604), a fragment of the human growth hormone GH FRAG 176-191, which restores the ability for the body to burn fat, therefore reducing body weight and fat levels without the growth hormone affect.
This ‘peptide’ has not been approved for human use by any government health authority in the world.
There is a myriad of these peptides in research because with the advances in DNA technology, biochemistry and industrial peptide manufacture, they can search for specific factors from muscle cell production to nerve production and produce them for sale.
Imagine how many different peptides are turned on and off in genes every second in millions of places at once in your body.
So what of future issues?
There are more peptides being developed than what ASADA and WADA could ever cope with. The BALCO steroid distribution system, for example, was based on a chemist going back into the academic research journals and finding a steroid that was synthesised and tested but decided not to be commercialised.
Often this is because a different variant was probably cheaper to manufacture, not because it was dangerous or substandard. The drug in question for BALCO was Tetrahydrogestrinone, referred to as ‘The Clear’, a precursor (chemistry joke) to what will happen.
A biochemist with the scruples of BALCO owner Victor Conte will find a peptide that was researched and ultimately abandoned and they will make it and sell it.
For the people who don’t know about chemical analysis, what you need to know is ‘you can’t find it if you don’t know what it looks like’.
Without a sample, like the one ultimately provided in the BALCO case by someone fishing a syringe from the bin, then would the world have ever known?
It’s not all bad, many of these peptides are going to heal burn victims, stop multiple sclerosis and make a lot of money!
Oh, for the people taking untested or poorly studied peptide/growth factors or what have you… you often see these ‘markers’ elevated in cancer and disease sufferers.
To get abnormal growth in cancerous lungs, you need an abnormal amount of growth factors (i.e. peptides.)
Think about it!