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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
Measurements of human growth hormone concentrations can show very important discrepancies, despite the generalised use of an international measurement standard. In a recently published article, co-authored by the JRC, scientists presented evidence for the fact that the current degree of standardisation is insufficient.
Due to these discrepancies, no uniform criteria for growth hormone disorders can be established at present. This may lead to unnecessary treatments of healthy people or a lack of treatment of those with growth hormone disorders (for instance, larger than normal growth of bones of the face, jaws, hands or feet).
One of the reasons behind these discrepancies is that the current international measurement standard is a purified freeze-dried form of the growth hormone. Depending on how this material is used in diagnostic kits, it may behave differently than patient samples.As there is no recognised protocol describing how to use the standard, the resulting growth hormone values will differ.
The authors also show that it is in principle possible to obtain equivalent results from different methods by calibrating them with a so-called matrix reference material behaving more like patient samples. Standardisation could thus be achieved.