By Dr Catrin Goebel
The detection of the abuse of synthetic insulins by doping laboratories is likely to become a routine requirement. The World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) code normally requires the use of mass spectrometry to identify prohibited drugs but peptide hormones are currently excluded because of the difficulty of obtaining mass spectra from such large molecules at very low physiological concentrations. Recent developments in applying mass spectrometry to proteomics means that it is becoming feasible for doping laboratories to routinely apply such methodology to detect and confirm the abuse of peptide hormones. The methodology to detect and confirm the abuse of peptide hormones by mass spectrometry is preferred to the current use of immunoassays or other immuno-reactive techniques. Insulin is a clear example of how both endogenous insulin and its synthetic analogues can give a positive result with some immunological assays but mass spectral analysis can easily distinguish between them. The use of all types of insulin is prohibited by non-diabetic athletes but it is desirable if possible to identify which form of insulin has been used.