Imagine getting more endurance in the midst of physical inactivity- you get to run further and burn more fats! Amazing, isn’t it? But how in the world can this happen? GW1516, a drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), activates peroxisome proliferator- activated receptor (PPAR) to increase the transcription of genes that aid in muscle metabolism.This receptor is also associated with the transcription of insulin, a hormone that facilitates glucose utilization and subsequent energy production.
The remarkable thing about GW1516 is that it uses fats, instead of the more readily available glucose, as fuel which the body normally uses for long duration exercises. The end result is that the body gets to endure the activity for a longer period of time.A slimming effect has also been associated with this drug due to increased lipolysis, a process that involves fat breakdown. GW1516 even has a synergistic effect with 5-aminoimidazole carboxamideribonucleotide (AICAR). This is a compound needed by the body for the synthesis of amino acids, molecules that serve as building blocks of proteins that are primarily used for muscle growth and development.
However, further researches and experiments on animals show that GW1516 is not as good as what people think it is. This drug does not only serve as a performance enhancer but is also used to increase the body’s levels of HDL or high density lipoprotein, the good cholesterol, and to control Diabetes Mellitus and obesity. GW1516 could be the work of a genius except for some major drawbacks- it causes cancer and cardiovascular problems.
GSK started the trials for GW1516 in 2001 and the Salk Institute even conducted series of experiments on mice regarding this substance. Researchers showed thatGW1516 does not enhance endurance on a sedentary mouse but can increase performance by up to 70% with exercise. The results were promising but GSK suddenly stopped further development in 2007. It has been shown that it is associated with the development of polyps and worse, malignancies in various body organs. Such organs may include, but are not limited to, the liver, the reproductive organs, such as testes and ovaries, and gastrointestinal organs, most especially the stomach.
In 2009, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an international agency that works for a doping-free sporting environment, banned the use of GW1516 because of its major health risks especially so that there is a great possibility of abuse of this drug among athletes. Early last year, five cyclists have already been suspended from their respective racing teams after testing positive for GW1516. The first athlete to be suspended because of use of GW1516 was Valery Kaykov in early 2013, a Rusvelo cyclist, who had been playing with the team for a while and who had won competitions in his field. Miguel Ubeto, who also tested positive for the sulfone compound present in GW1516shared the same fate as Kaykov. From then on, more and more athletes have been suspended from their respective teams as WADA had strictly implemented the anti-doping campaign.
A urine test had already been developed to easily detect the presence of GW1516compounds in the body.The drug had been included in WADA’s list of prohibited substances in response to concerns raised during the 2008 Beijing Olympics along with other PPAR modulators. WADA claims that this drug will never be allowed to be used by athletes as risks of various health problems totally outweigh the benefits.
Currently, the fight against the use of GW1516 is still ongoing. The wonder drug that lead so many athletes and their teams to victory is now a drug that can never be cleared for consumption. It’s still up in the market and the temptation for the sports enthusiasts to take it is undeniable. But the good thing is that there are more tests to detect GW1516 in the body and we can only look forward to a hundred per cent negativity among all of the athletes in the world.