DNA clue to football injuries Tests can provide a full DNA profile of about 100 genes linked to improved performance — and an increased chance of being injured

The results of DNA tests could help clubs to manage the risk to players (Chad Baker)

A Premier League football club has had DNA tests carried out on its players to determine who is susceptible to injury.

The tests provided a full DNA profile of about 100 genes linked to both an increased chance of getting injured and improved performance.

While such information could help clubs to manage the risk to players, there are fears that it will be used to weed out players liable to injury.

The tests were requested after ground-breaking work by British scientists who have pioneered research into genetic mutations linked to the rupture of tendons, a common footballing injury.

Swabs were taken from inside the players’ mouths and the DNA placed on a small testing device called a biochip. This had been coated with the genetic mutations for which they were being tested.

The players’ mutant genes “linked up” with those already on the biochip and this in turn allowed the scientists to read the footballers’ genetic profile under a laser beam and assess the risk of injury.

The role that is played by specific genes in increasing the risk of tendon injuries was discovered by Nicola Maffulli, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London.

He found that mutations in a collagen gene called COL5A1 led to the ribbon-like structure that supports the tendon being more loosely connected, making the tendon less stable as a result.

Professor Maffulli said the tests provided obvious advantages to clubs.

However, he warned: “It may be really unfair to have a child who likes football, who may be told he will never make it because he has the wrong set of genes.”

October 21st, 2011

ESPN

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