As a result of the first large-scale study of cocaine users, a rapid and highly sensitive fingerprint test had been developed that could confirm the use of Class A drugs especially cocaine, the study featured in Clinical Chemistry .
In collaboration with the Netherlands Forensic Institute and Intelligent Fingerprinting, the researchers from the University of Surrey developed a novel technique to analyze the range of cocaine detected in the fingerprints . They used paper spray mass spectrometry to take the sample as part of the technique.
The scientists enrolled the group of patients from drug rehabilitation centers and a larger group of unknown drug users. The participants were made to wash their before the test and assembled the samples on the prepared chromatography paper. Later the fingerprint was developed using chemicals that could establish the ridges of the fingerprint before the analysis.
If a person administers cocaine, it gets excrete as metabolite benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine. The metabolites present even in the fingerprint traces, and it could be detected even after hand washing.
In 2015 and 2016 around 2.7 million people (age 16-59 years) used Class A drugs, among 8,500 people were hospitalized post diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioral disorder. In 2015, there could be 10% spike in the death rate (2,500) related to drug use when compared to 2014.
Dr Costa from the University of Surrey said that the paper spray mass spectrometry becomes more popular in forensic settings because it is incredibly sensitive and easy to handle and less tedious. "This is the first time it has been used to detect the presence of drugs in fingerprints, and our results show the technique was 99% effective in detecting cocaine use among the patients," she added.
"This is a real breakthrough in our work to bring a real-time, non-invasive drug-testing method to the market that will provide a definitive result in a matter of minutes – we are already working on a 30second method," said Dr. Bailey from the University of Surrey.
She continued, it's a non-invasive, hygienic test and it can not be faked by the nature of the test, the identity of the individuals, and their drug use, as these all covered within the sample.
Dr. Jerry Walker, CEO of Intelligent Fingerprinting stated that the study shows that the fingerprints could play a significant role in simplifying drug screening , and complements their parallel developments in portable, point-of-use diagnostic tests that could reinforce the value of a fingerprint as a diagnostic matrix .
"We have supported the University of Surrey research programs for the last four years, and Dr. Bailey and her team have shown that they are the leading group in fingerprint diagnostics research using mass spectrometry, the revolutionary field of fingerprint-based diagnostics," I added
The novel Researchers expected the technology to be used by the law for the drug abuse Within ten years since the conventional testing methods Have certain limitations Including body fluids invasive tests, the Possibility of biological hazards and require special storage and disposal methods