What are Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators?

A Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) is a therapeutic compound that contains properties similar to an anabolic agent.

SARMs have the advantage of tissue selectivity, along with a lack of side effects related to steroids. These potential side effects include liver damage, acne, development of breast tissue, and shrinking testicles, along with voice deepening and unwanted growth of hair on the upper back, face, and stomach. Steroids can also adversely influence female menstrual cycles.

SARMs are a complex issue but HealthEd Academy is a useful resource to understand them better.

SARMS can differentiate between androgenic and anabolic activities. This allows for potential therapeutic opportunities in numerous medical conditions including osteoporosis, cancer, muscle-wasting diseases, and hypogonadism.

SARMs are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and have been since 2008. They have the potential for misuse especially when it comes to performance enhancement in sport.

Their anabolic properties coupled with an ability to stimulate androgenic receptors in both muscle and bone make them attractive to ambitious sportspeople and coaches.

Clinically-approved SARMs

Non-steroidal SARMs were first introduced 22 years ago. Since a list of drug candidates in this new class of therapeutics has been growing and many SARM candidates have been subjected to trials by some of the biggest global pharmaceutical companies.

But, full clinical approval for humans to consume these as prescription drugs has yet to be accomplished.

Detection strategy

Anti-doping agencies are taking proactive approaches to tackle any evidence of SARMs abuse in sport. When it is considered there is potential for SARM drug candidates to emerge, the suspects are investigated even though the clinical trials for these drugs are yet to be completed.

This enables the anti-doping agencies to integrate their testing strategies for detecting SARMs. This can be done not just in an efficient but also in a timely manner. One demonstration of the effectiveness of this strategy emerged in 2010 when an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) was reported with Andarine, which is a non-approved and officially discontinued SARM drug candidate.  HealthEd Academy is a useful resource on Andarine.

A more recent example of anti-doping research comes in the form of metabolites of LG121071. This potential SARM drug candidate was generated in vitro. The detection method developed involved urine samples that were based on liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

SARMs in dietary supplements

SARMs are illegal ingredients when it comes to dietary supplements. But, there have been examples of products that contain SARMs being illegally marketed and sold dietary supplements.

As such the products pose potentially significant health risks to the athletes who use these supplements. Use could also lead to Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) in sport. All athletes should, therefore, be aware that ingredients using SARMS can appear on the lists on dietary supplement labels under a variety of names. They should be vigilant and cautious when consuming products like these.

In 2014, for example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to one dietary supplement business because at least one of their supplement products contained Ostarin, a SARM ingredient that was not approved.

The letter stip[ulated that no dietary supplement is allowed to include any substance being investigated as a new drug candidate.