Erythropoietin is produced naturally by the kidneys to stimulate the production of red blood cells. Many athletes use artificial EPO to boost their performance, as artificial EPO is indistinguishable from natural hormones.
Associate professor Chris Pemberton and colleagues from the Christchurch Heart Institute and associate professor David Gerrard, from the Dunedin School of Medicine, were recently awarded a grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency to create a new test to detect a part of EPO, which was previously not measured.
According to the scientists, the success of the research would further strengthen the test procedures and help fight cheaters.
The research findings are expected to be presented to the agency within 12 months.