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Fingerprint analysis tech aims to revolutionize drug testing

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 9:41 EDT
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A new technology that analyzes the sweat from a person’s fingertips looks to revolutionize the drug testing market, providing on-site results in minutes with a test so advanced it can even detect marijuana intoxication.

Using gold nanoparticles and special antibodies, the tech produced by British firm Intelligent Fingerprinting latches on to metabolites on the fingerprint and turns a specific color depending on which drug byproducts are detected.

While it can be configured to search for drugs like nicotine, methadone and cocaine, it also presents another innovation: helping to determine if someone is actively intoxicated on marijuana.

Marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient is fat soluble, so it stays in the body for weeks locked in fat cells. This means that traditional drug testing using urine analysis can detect whether a person has used marijuana up to a month afterwards, but it doesn’t actually reveal if the person was intoxicated at the time the test was taken.

The fingerprint test, on the other hand, can detect minuscule amounts of broken-down drug compounds in metabolites in just minutes, pointing to whether that person was stoned or not. The development leads to a breakthrough that could result in more accurate testing to determine whether a person is driving while drugged.

The device was first announced last week, during the UCL International Crime Science Conference.

Image credit: Flickr commons.

(H/T: New Scientist)

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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