Equine Health Update February 2017 Issue - Page 11

NOTICE TO ALL TRAINERS SCREENING FOR THE USE OF ACTH IN RACING Adrenocorticotropic hormone, commonly called ACTH, is a protein hormone naturally produced in the horse. The function of ACTH is to stimulate and also regulate levels of the steroid hormone cortisol. Commercially available ACTH is a synthetically produced peptide hormone which is high similar in structure to ACTH produced naturally. As a prohibited substance in horseracing the use of synthetic ACTH is most commonly monitored and prosecuted by the increase which is observed the level of naturally produced hydrocortisone. As the hydrocortisone level increases beyond the international threshold, this is prosecuted as a prohibited substance offence. There are also other approaches to detect the use of synthetic ACTH. One of these is based on the fact that synthetic ACTH corresponds to the structure of human ACTH. It can therefore be detected in the horse as the structure of this protein is somewhat different to naturally produced ACTH in the horse. The NHA Laboratory is one of a few racing laboratories which have been active in the research of new approaches for the detection for synthetic administered ACTH in the race horse. During recent years ACTH administration trials were conducted on horses as part of such research at our Laboratory. This research was formally presented at an international conference for horse racing chemists and veterinarians. It must be noted that at least one web based sales company is selling a product which purport to contain the biochemically active molecule of ACTH. Several racing laboratories have already analysed this preparation. Such analysis however indicated that the active peptide ACTH is either not contained or is only contained in a very low concentration, certainly too low to effect the horse. NOTICE TO ALL TRAINERS THE SCREENING FOR THE FORBIDDEN SUBSTANCES ERYTHOPOIETIN (EPO) AND GROWTH HORMONE (GH) Erythropoietin (EPO) is natural occurring protein hormone which has the function to increase red blood cell production in the horse. Natural EPO can be supplemented by the administration of several different forms of human EPO to the horse. At the NHA Laboratory the screening of human EPO in horse specimens is being undertaken employing a sophisticated immuno-detection screening methodology which is widely reported as the most accurate and sensitive currently available to the racing industry. A highly attractive aspect about this is the wide range of EPO types which are covered, as was been confirmed by EPO administration and research studies at racing laboratories. Included in the effective coverage of the screen is conventional EPO forms such as Epogen, Eprex, Epoetin-alpha, Epoetinbeta and Procrit and even longer acting EPO types called darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp, DPO) and CERA (PEG Epoetin-beta, MirCERA). Growth Hormone (GH) refers to a natural hormone within the horse which is anabolic and which has the effect to enhance cell growth and cell recovery. In addition to this natural occurring equine GH there are a range of synthetic GH’s from several animal species which are active in the horse. These include a modified form of equine GH, bovine (cattle) GH and porcine (pig) GH. The NHA Laboratory employs a sensitive immune-detection screening approach which was shown effective in detecting the use these hormones by means of the measurement of the amount of the messenger protein “IGF-1”. The screening methodology measures the IGF-1 concentration against the level which is normal in the horse and can also detect the use of and some IGF-1 analogues and synthetic IGF-1 forms. The NHA Laboratory was a few years ago, in partnership with a few other countries, instrumental in conducting important research into suitable screening methodologies and validating these screening approaches. The NHA recognises the threat which these Class 1, Forbidden Substances pose to the integrity of racing and the welfare of the horse and for this reason these • Volume 19 no 1 • February 2017 • 11