Software Programs, Technology Security

Fingerprints Used to Detect Drug Abuse

Not only can your fingerprints identify you, now they can identify which drugs you are using. Intelligent Fingerprinting in the NRP Innovation Center at Norwich Research Park in the UK says your sweat can give you away. Just like an on-site breathalyzer to detect alcohol levels of suspected drunk drivers, the hand-held drug testing device is mobile.

Mobile substance-detection via fingerprint prototpyeThe prototype device was a joint development of Intelligent Fingerprinting and eg Technology, a consulting firm in Cambridge. David Russell, CTO of Intelligent Fingerprinting and Professor of Chemistry at UEA?s School of Chemistry, said: "The first prototype will be able to test individuals for drugs of abuse but we will be working to widen the range of substances to include other drugs and health markers that are found in fingerprints."

The device uses high sensitivity detection reagents which identify metabolite substances in the sweat of a finger tip. Your fingerprint can tattle on you if you have used cocaine, methadone, morphine, or cannabis.

The company also provides sample kits for analysis of latent fingerprints recovered from touched surfaces ? a CSI-type of tool.

Fingerprints can reveal drug use - image here shows fluoroscent markers

Fingerprints can reveal drug use

Skill sets from individuals in microfluidics, optics, electronics, software, industrial and mechanical design came together to design the device. It uses novel micro-fluidics and optics that enable samples taken in the field to be analyzed in just a few minutes by disposable cartridges. The device uses antibody coated nanoparticles. An image is revealed when a fluorescent dye binds to the fingerprint metabolite antibody conjugates.

The company claims that "The detection of the metabolites is correlated directly to the sweat pores within the fingerprint itself, meaning that the Intelligent Fingerprinting testing process is immune from problems associated with contamination, impossible to cheat, and provides a watertight chain of evidence continuity."

Fingerprints are easy to obtain, in contrast to blood sampling. They do not require refrigeration since they are stable at room temperature, and do not require testing with complex, non-portable, equipment. After the new device is tested, it is scheduled to go into production some time next year.