The performance-enhancing drug ITPP (myo-Inositol TrisPyroPhosphate) is thought to be widely abused in horse racing. It produces its performance-enhancing effects by binding to hemoglobin and accelerating oxygen release.

Responding to requests from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center's Equine Pharmacology, Therapeutics, and Toxicology program has synthesized a certified reference standard for ITPP. Chemists require certified reference standards to confidently certify an illegal medication's presence in a horse.

To enable regulatory control of this performance-enhancing drug, Thomas Tobin, PhD, MRCVS, Dipl. ABT, professor of veterinary science at the Gluck Equine Research Center, and his group developed a method to synthesize ITPP while working closely with Frontier BioPharm Inc. of Richmond, Ky. The ITPP reference standard was then made available to the University of Pennsylvania through a technology transfer licensing agreement between the UK Intellectual Property Office and Frontier BioPharm Inc., whose license covers commercialization rights to a series of certified reference standards and deuterated internal standards synthesized by the UK research program.

"Several weeks ago we provided our Pennsylvania colleagues with reference standard amounts of ITPP for analytical method development and are now providing more substantial quantities of ITPP for experimental work, including equine administrations," Tobin said. "In the absence of access to reference standard quality ITPP it would not be possible to either 'call' an ITPP positive horse or to identify its true abuse potential in racing horses."

Racing scientists, including Lawrence Soma, VMD, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornelius Uboh, PhD, adjunct associate professor of pharmacy and pharmacology and director of the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory in West Chester, are seeking to develop tests to control ITPP's use/abuse, but their efforts have been previously hampered by lack of access to reference standards for ITPP.

Jenny Blandford is the Gluck Equine Research Foundation coordinator at the Gluck Center.

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