The use of gene doping can potentially increase someone’s physical capabilities in terms of strength and endurance, so it may emerge as the new frontier of cheating.
With hundreds of genetic variations linked to human fitness and performance, coupled with rapid developments in gene therapy, it is not surprising that the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) included gene doping on their list of prohibited strategies long before it was ever found to occur in athletes.
But before we even touch upon the desire to ‘hack’ or ‘dope’ our genes- We must understand our genes in the first place. I was recently enlightened to a personal-genetics company 23andMe from the Bio-Hack Event I attended last week. In my latest obsession of beginning to truly learn to ‘Biohack’ my body, I really need to know what the hell makes me up. Go big or go home right?
Compiling with the FDA’s rules on personal-genetics testing- you are enlightened from how much DNA you share with our Neanderthal ancestors to how much caffeine you likely consume; thank you to BulletProof Coffee my blood should be flowing rampant with caffeine.
Hearing our world may be taking the turn into the space where we are starting to see develop drugs based on genetic information; and of course my favorite, the concept of ‘gene doping’ as well as genetically designing our babies… May be in guilty on the lines of dreaming about the possibility of genetically designing my child to look similar to David Beckham. (Laughs.) But I am Curious to see what kind of diseases I might be at risk of passing down to my kids (god bless their souls) and whether the health concerns that run in my family – All spotted in my saliva.
A few days after ordering, my box arrived.
The test came with instructions (thank god), a tube for me to spit in and a special sealed bag to enclose the tube in when I was done. Spit is one of the most noninvasive ways to collect DNA- oooo exciting. But I thought to myself , why do I need to provide so much saliva in this tube, was this company planning on testing some freezing the other and then creating their own versions of my perfect David Beckham version baby for themselves? So I did some googling- according to Business Insider interview:
’23andMe needs this much spit just in case the first assay, or analysis procedure, fails.’ – 23andMe Vice President of Business Development, Life Sciences Emily Drabant Conley
Okay got it- knowing that way, they have enough to run it a second time- I felt comfortable enough and proceeded to make it to the top line. It was time to seal it up and send it on its way.
Before I shipped it in, I had to register my test online. I also got to decide if I wanted to have my genes used to research and develop treatments for diseases.
The kit came as its own return shipping. All I had to do was pop it in my nearest mailbox which was 3 blocks from my apartment (I contemplated getting an icecream ‘on the way’ but was 5 blocks in the opposite direction.) Damnit- The box is conveniently labeled:
“Exempt Human Specimen,”
Which could be sort of weird if someone read the label in line at Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, (would most certainly guarantee me date tonight!) Just wanting to let everyone know my package doesn’t contain anything infectious of course! Whatever- decided to skip being massively judge today at least, and take my direct route to the mail box- popped it in and sent it on its way to the laboratory.
So, now we wait- and unlock the secrets of my soul, or just simply but DNA.
[Results, to be continued….]
So what exactly is gene doping, what are its consequences and dangers, and should you suspect your fellow competitors or admired elite athletes of being genetically enhanced anytime soon?
What is gene doping?
According to WADA, gene doping is the “Transfer of polymers of nucleic acids or nucleic acid analogues, or the use of normal or genetically modified cells”.
Gene doping closely relates to gene therapy. In the past few decades, gene therapy has been developing as a strategy for preventing or treating diseases. Gene doping is a variant of gene therapy, where the goal is not to treat or prevent diseases but to enhance a healthy person’s performance.
Gene doping may look attractive for athletes who are prepared to cheat because most doping tests distinguish between endogenous (produced by the body) and exogenous (produced outside the body) biological compounds (e.g. banned substances are detected in urine or blood tests). With gene doping, the compounds of interest that have a positive effect on performance are produced by the body and are hence ‘endogenic’ and less easily detectable.
Also, if you gene dope, you may get a steady state dynamic which avoids peaks like those arising performance enhancing drugs, making detection more difficult.
It is possible that some athletes are looking and even trying unproven gene doping procedures in the off-chance that they can gain even a small boost to their performance-
No one wants to have a poor performance- question lies in what exactly type of performance do you want to strive at?
Ill ponder the question myself over my fresh hot cup of BulletProof