New Drug Test Can Detect Cocaine In Fingerprints Within Seconds

A newly developed test can detect if a person has recently used cocaine in just a matter of seconds.

New Drug Test Can Identify Cocaine Molecules

The new drug test, which was described in the journal Clinical Chemistry, involves a method known as paper spray mass spectrometry, which makes it possible to determine the identity of a particular substance by measuring the mass of its molecules.

The molecules of cocaine have a unique mass and this makes it possible for the spectrometer to detect their presence. The test is also capable of detecting metabolites produced from the body processing cocaine.

New Drug Test Is 99 Percent Effective And Extremely Fast

In a study involving 39 people who were either cocaine users and non-users, researchers have found that the test is 99 percent effective.

Analysis of sample takes only 30 seconds, which is extremely fast when compared with conventional laboratory-based drug tests that require waiting hours or even days for the results. The test does not also need to samples of urine, hair, and blood making it less invasive and safer.

"The method offers a qualitative and noninvasive screening test for cocaine use. The analysis method developed is rapid (4 min/sample) and requires no sample preparation," researchers reported in their study.

How It Works

A fingerprint is collected on a triangular piece of paper, which is then placed on a mass spectrometer that measures the mass of molecules and atoms. A solvent is then poured onto the paper, which will send small electrical charge through the paper releasing the molecules and sending them into the spectrometer analyzer and detector that measures and records the molecules' mass.

The researchers also added fingerprint identification to the process, which would ensure that the sample indeed came from the individual meant to be tested.

"It is non-invasive, hygienic and can't be faked - by the nature of the test, the identity of the subject, and their drug use, is all captured within the sample itself," said study researcher Melanie Bailey, from Surrey University,

Not Just Cocaine

The method may be used to test different drugs. Researchers, for instance, were able to detect heroin.

They said that the test may be used in emergency situations such as when an overdose occurs. Results may allow paramedics or doctors to determine the substance responsible for an abuse.

More than 700,000 people in the United States suffer from cocaine addiction.

24 September 2017

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