Using Cocaine? Fingerprints Might Tell

From Drugs.com - October 27, 2017

Using Cocaine? Fingerprints Might Tell

FRIDAY, Oct. 27, 2017 -- An experimental fingerprint test could confirm within seconds if someone has used cocaine, according to a new study.

The screening might pave the way for fingerprint-detection of other dangerous drugs such as heroin and ecstasy, said scientists at the University of Surrey in England.

"This is a real breakthrough in our work to bring a real-time, noninvasive drug-testing method to the market that will provide a definitive result in a matter of minutes. We are already working on a 30-second method," said study co-leader Melanie Bailey, a chemistry lecturer.

When people take cocaine, they excrete trace amounts of benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine. These chemicals can be detected in fingerprint residue even after hand-washing, the researchers explained.

For the study, 239 sets of fingerprints were taken from patients seeking treatment at drug rehab centers and from a larger control group of non-drug users.

The screening "is noninvasive, hygienic and ca not be faked," Bailey said in a university news release. "By the nature of the test, the identity of the subject, and their drug use, is all captured within the sample itself."

The British researchers developed the test in partnership with the Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague and Intelligent Fingerprinting of Cambridge, England. They used chromatography paper to collect fingerprint samples and relied on a technique known as paper spray mass spectrometry.

"Paper spray mass spectrometry is gaining increasing popularity in forensic circles because it is incredibly sensitive and is very easy to set up a testing system. The units will save laboratories time," said study co-leader Catia Costa, a doctoral student in Bailey's university lab.


Continue reading at Drugs.com »