DNA used to find injury-prone players
An English Premier League soccer 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 (London) Sunday Times reported.
The tests were requested after groundbreaking work by British scientists who have pioneered research into genetic mutations linked to the rupture of tendons, a common soccer injury.
Marios Kambouris, a leading molecular geneticist and assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine, carried out the tests. He was told neither the name of the club nor the identities of the players.
"I have no idea which players they were but there were good genes in there, things which would positively affect their performance, such as their ability to have better aerobic respiration, which would give them more stamina on the pitch," Kambouris said.
The role that is played by specific genes in increasing the risk of tendon injuries was discovered by Nicola Maffulli, a consultant orthopedic 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.
Maffulli said the tests provided obvious advantages to clubs, but 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."