Edited Press Release
The Racing Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC) today announced the funding of a three-year post-doctoral fellowship research project “Micro RNAs as Sensitive Biomarkers for Detection of Drug Administration in Horses.”
This promising project was submitted by Dr. Camilo Jaramillo-Morales with the Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate group at the University of California, Davis. Assessment of RNA or protein biomarkers offers an alternative, and potentially more sensitive approach to the detection of prohibited substances administered to racehorses. The overall goal of the current study is to develop an alternate approach, using microRNA (miRNA) biomarkers, for the detection and regulation of banned substances in racehorses.
“The RMTC is proud to support the professional development of young scientists who are the future of our drug testing and research programs”, said Alex Waldrop, RMTC Board Chair. “It is particularly rewarding to be able to fund Dr. Jaramillo-Morales as he will be under the supervision and tutelage of Dr. Heather Knych whose own post-doctoral training program was funded by the RMTC over 10 years ago.”
“The recruitment and retention of motivated, highly trained personnel and support of competitive research programs are critical to anti-doping, medication control, and racing safety programs”, said Dr. Michael Hardy, Executive Director. “The racing industry has a responsibility to solicit qualified individuals, support their advanced training, provide incentives for relevant research programs, and foster productivity in research laboratories.”
At its Oct.. 2 meeting, the RMTC's Board of Directors also approved the research application “Untargeted Detection of Doping Agents in Equine Plasma”, submitted by Dr. Fuyu Guan with the Department of Clinical Studies–New Bolton Center School of Veterinary Medicine University of Pennsylvania.
Current analytical methods used for medication control in horse racing focus detection of drugs based on lists of prohibited substances established by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA), and most recently, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA). This proposal seeks to address the challenges associated with detecting untargeted (“unknown”) substances with doping potential which may remain unpublished on these targeted lists or testing menus. Dr. Guan has recently developed a novel algorithm-based methodology, aided by artificial intelligence, for untargeted detection of unknown doping agents in equine plasma. This project will expand on recently published research by Dr. Guan and his team to validate this methodology with the goal being to develop a comprehensive untargeted drug detection methodology that can be used for routine screening analysis of postrace plasma for new doping agents and unknown drugs.
“More in-depth analysis of data generated from samples using current analytical detection technologies is an untapped opportunity”, said Dr. Rick Arthur, member of RMTC's Scientific Advisory Committee. “This project mines that data and expands beyond targeted testing.”