The Biological Research Unit

The Biological Research Unit at Racing Analytical Services (RASL) was established in 2012 with funding from the State Government of Victoria, specifically to develop tests for new peptide and protein based doping agents. The laboratory is unique in the world of racing laboratories as it employs experienced biochemists and biomedical scientists within a working drug testing laboratory, developing practical testing solutions to these new doping agents.

The formation of the laboratory has allowed RASL to respond rapidly to the use of Dermorphin peptides in the US racing industry in late 2012, and then to the alleged use of peptides by the Australian football codes in 2013. The Biological Research Unit is now a world leader in the field of peptide testing with the development of an innovative high-throughput peptide screen for a broad range of performance enhancing peptides. This method has been validated for use in horses, greyhounds and human athletes and is used for routine testing of race-day samples from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

The Biological Research Unit is the only racing laboratory in Australia with a NATA accredited method for the confirmation of recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) in equine and canine samples. RASL performs routine screening for rhEPO in equine and canine samples using a human EPO ELISA kit. As human EPO is distinctly different to the equine and canine forms, the detection of rhEPO in horses and greyhounds is much simpler and more sensitive than testing in human athletes. The Biological Research Unit is now expanding its protein screening method to include a wider range of performance enhancing targets, which will safeguard against the use of new protein doping agents as they emerge in the future.


A high throughput screen for 17 Dermorphin peptides in equine and human urine and equine plasma.Steel R, Timms M, Levina V, Vine J.Drug Test Anal. 2014 Sep;6(9):909-21. doi: 10.1002/dta.1585. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

A high-throughput LC-MS/MS screen for GHRP in equine and human urine, featuring peptide derivatization for improved chromatography.Timms M, Hall N, Levina V, Vine J, Steel R.Drug Test Anal. 2014 Feb 24. doi: 10.1002/dta.1624. [Epub ahead of print]