A microRNA-based test could enable researchers to detect instances of blood doping among top athletes, Dark Daily reports.
A Duke University-led team of researchers found that the storage of red blood cells was associated with changes in miR‐720 expression. As they report in the British Journal of Haematology, the researchers could detect this alteration in miR‐720 upon storage using a range of tools, including NanoString Technologies' nCounter assay, RT‐qPCR, and small RNA northern blotting. While the researchers note that why this miRNA is affected isn't clear, it could have applications to detecting blood doping in sports.
Autologous blood doping in which athletes use their own blood to boost their oxygen-carrying capacity is hard to detect with current approaches, a Duke press release says. But uncovering higher-than-usual amounts of miR‐720 could be an indicator that blood had been stored.
"The difficulty has been that the tests they have couldn't tell the difference between a young blood cell and an old one," author Jen-Tsan Chi from Duke says in a statement.