My watch list
my.bionity.com  
Login  

New test detects drug use from a single fingerprint

20-May-2015

Led by the University of Surrey, a team of researchers from the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NL), the National Physical Laboratory (UK), King’s College London (UK) and Sheffield Hallam University (UK), used different types of an analytical chemistry technique known as mass spectrometry to analyse the fingerprints of patients attending drug treatment services. They tested these prints against more commonly used saliva samples to determine whether the two tests correlated. While previous fingerprint tests have employed similar methods, they have only been able to show whether a person had touched cocaine, and not whether they have actually taken the drug.

“When someone has taken cocaine, they excrete traces of benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine as they metabolise the drug, and these chemical indicators are present in fingerprint residue,” said lead author Dr Melanie Bailey from the University of Surrey.  “For our part of the investigations, we sprayed a beam of solvent onto the fingerprint slide (a technique known as Desorption Electrospray Ionisation, or DESI) to determine if these substances were present. DESI has been used for a number of forensic applications, but no other studies have shown it to demonstrate drug use.”

Researchers believe that the applications for this test could be far-reaching. Drug testing is used routinely by probation services, prisons, courts and other law enforcement agencies. However, traditional testing methods have limitations. For example, blood testing requires trained staff and there are privacy concerns about urine testing. Where bodily fluids are tested, there can be biological hazards and often a requirement for particular storage and disposal methods. Often these tests also require analysis off-site.

“The beauty of this method is that, not only is it non-invasive and more hygienic than testing blood or saliva, it can’t be faked,” added Dr Bailey. “By the very nature of the test, the identity of the subject is captured within the fingerprint ridge detail itself.”

It is anticipated that this technology could see the introduction of portable drug tests for law enforcement agencies to use within the next decade.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • National Physical L…
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • King's College London
  • cocaine
  • benzoylecgonine
  • methylecgonine
  • desorption electros…
More about University of Surrey
  • News

    New stem cell strategy aids heart regeneration after heart attack

    New research published in The Journal of Physiology has indicated a potential new stem cell treatment following a heart attack, by encouraging the regeneration of heart muscle cells. The low retention and survival rate of stem cells implanted in the heart had previously proven a sticking po ... more

    Night owls have higher risk of dying sooner

    "Night owls" - people who like to stay up late and have trouble dragging themselves out of bed in the morning - have a higher risk of dying sooner than "larks," people who have a natural preference for going to bed early and rise with the sun, according to a new study from Northwestern Medi ... more

    New self-regulating nanoparticles could treat cancer

    Scientists from the University of Surrey have developed 'intelligent' nanoparticles which heat up to a temperature high enough to kill cancerous cells - but which then self-regulate and lose heat before they get hot enough to harm healthy tissue. The self-stopping nanoparticles could soon b ... more

More about King's College London
More about National Physical Laboratory
  • News

    Electronic zippers control DNA strands

    The DNA double helix has been one of the most recognisable structures in science ever since it was first described by Watson and Crick almost 60 years ago (paper published in Nature in 25 April 1953). The binding and unbinding mechanism of DNA strands is vital to natural biological processe ... more

    Scientists copy the ways viruses deliver genes

    Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have mimicked the ways viruses infect human cells and deliver their genetic material. The research hopes to apply the approach to gene therapy – a therapeutic strategy to correct defective genes such as those that cause cancer. Gene thera ... more

    New research examines how HIV infections occur on the molecular level

    The UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with the University of Edinburgh and IBM's TJ Watson Research Center have published new research about the structure of an HIV-1 protein that could help to develop new drugs to stop the virus infecting healthy cells. The research provides a new i ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE