Experimental Drug Test Combines Biometrics with Biophysics

“…the subject’s fingerprint inherently links that individual to the molecular sample, helping to ensure that the test results are accurately ascribed to the right person.”

An experimental new drug test combines biometrics and biophysics to determine whether a subject has recently used cocaine.

Experimental Drug Test Combines Biometrics with BiophysicsThe method was developed by researchers at the University of Surrey in collaboration with the Netherlands Forensic Institute and Intelligent Fingerprinting, with a study just having been published in the Clinical Chemistry journal. It revolves around “paper spray mass spectrometry”: A subject’s fingerprint is taken, and then a special solution is sprayed onto the paper containing the fingerprint to release certain compounds found in cocaine, trace amounts of which will appear in the residue of fingerprints. Those molecules can then be spotted by a mass spectrometer, a device designed to measure the masses of tiny particles. The particles will apparently show up even after subjects have washed their hands, so the system essentially delivers a Yes or No answer to whether a given subject has recently used cocaine.

Meanwhile, the subject’s fingerprint inherently links that individual to the molecular sample, helping to ensure that the test results are accurately ascribed to the right person. In testing on 39 individuals – some from rehab facilities and some non-users of cocaine – the system was found to be 99 percent accurate. And while previous fingerprint-based tests could only determine whether a subject had come into contact with cocaine, this test more effectively demonstrates consumption.

The researchers say this system can be adapted to other drugs, and as CNBC reports, they’re planning to consult with interests in the healthcare industry and other sectors to see how it could be commercialized.

Sources: Forbes, CNBC

September 25, 2017 – by Alex Perala