Researchers present a new non-invasive method for drug testing. This breakthrough method requires only a fingerprint and the results can be revealed. What’s astonishing about it is that it can even tell the difference between touching the drug and inhaling it.

Drug use is one of the battles society has to fight, a lot of crimes are committed and many accidents happen when someone is on drugs. Cocaine is one of the most abused drugs and testing for its use is mandatory in probation services, prison, courts and other law enforcement organizations.

Researchers from the Netherlands and from the United Kingdom analyzed the fingerprints of individuals who attended drug treatment services. They compared these fingerprints with other tests, such as saliva samples to see whether the two tests correlated. Previously fingerprinting only revealed if a person has touched cocaine, but now the test also shows if the drug has been taken.

The chemistry behind this are the metabolites excreted when cocaine runs in our bloodstream. Dr. Melanie Bailey, University of Surrey, says that benzoylecgonine and methylecgoine are the two metabolites present in fingerprints after cocaine use. For this investigation they sprayed a beam of solvent onto the fingerprint slide to determine if the two substances were present. This method in called Desorption Electrospray Ionisation (DESI) and it is used in many forensic applications, but none of them demonstrates drug use.

This test is believed to be very useful and acceptable in the nearby future. It is anticipated that this method could be part of a portable drug test within the next decade. It is easy to perform and it requires no blood or urine. Disadvantages of blood testing such as biological hazards and urine samples, privacy concern, are going to be avoided for good. Dr. Bailey also adds that the beauty of this method is its non-invasiveness and also it is hygienic and it can’t be faked. 

References:

  • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150515083354.htm
  • http://www.surrey.ac.uk/mediacentre/features/new-test-detects-drug-use-single-fingerprint
  • http://www.youthhealthmag.com/articles/16316/20150522/simple-fingerprint-test-can-detect-cocaine-use.htm
  • Image adopted from: http://images.youthhealthmag.com/data/images/full/14892/fingerprint.jpg?w=600

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