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World's first fingerprint drug test can tell if person has taken cocaine, opiates, cannabis or amphetamines

The confirmation test from Intelligent Fingerprinting
The confirmation test from Intelligent Fingerprinting

Intelligent Fingerprinting, on Evolution Business Park, says test could be used by workplaces and to manage offenders

The Intelligent Fingerprinting laboratory
The Intelligent Fingerprinting laboratory

It can tell if a person has taken cocaine, opiates, cannabis or amphetamines simply from the touch of a finger.

The world’s first fingerprint-based drug use confirmation test has been launched by Impington company Intelligent Fingerprinting.

The test has been validated by independent laboratory LGC following almost three years of collaboration between the two organisations.

It could be used by workplaces, to aid drug rehabilitation, to manage offenders and even by coroners when a body first arrives at a mortuary.

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s chief executive officer Dr Jerry Walker said: “For any drug testing approach to be successful it is critical that both testers and those being tested are completely confident in the accuracy of the system being used.

The initial fingerprint test from Intelligent Fingerprinting
The initial fingerprint test from Intelligent Fingerprinting

“That’s why Intelligent Fingerprinting has been working closely with the human drug testing team at LGC to support their development and validation for our fingerprint-based confirmation test.”

The company, based on Evolution Business Park, is now offering the industry’s first end-to-end testing solution.

The initial drug screening test analyses sweat from a fingerprint to determine if a person has recently used cocaine, opiates, amphetamines or cannabis. The single-use, tamper-evident drug screening cartridge takes just five seconds to collect the sample. A portable analysis unit then reads the cartridge and provides the positive or negative result on-screen in less than 10 minutes.

If the test is positive, testers can then use the new Fingerprint Collection Kit to collect A and B samples for a confirmation test at LGC’s independent laboratory in Fordham, which uses liquid chromatography mass spectrometry.

The collection kit features a tamper-evident security bag, barcodes to maintain anonymous sample identity and a postage-paid returns envelope. LGC aims to turn around the results in two days. While confirmation testing is standard practice in employee drug screening services, this process is the first in which fingerprints can be used for the same result.

Work in the Intelligent Fingerprinting laboratory
Work in the Intelligent Fingerprinting laboratory

Intelligent Fingerprinting says it provides a convenient, hygienic and dignified solution.

Dr Walker added: “The launch of this service also coincides with the publication this week of research in Clinical Chemistry by the mass spectrometry research team at the University of Surrey, where Dr Melanie Bailey and her team have detailed their important work regarding environmental traces of cocaine or heroin found on donors’ fingertips.

“That’s why, in creating the Intelligent Fingerprinting confirmation test, we have designed a confirmation collection protocol to protect against potential contribution from environmental sources.”

Intelligent Fingerprinting said it chose LGC as its laboratory partner because it has a reputation as a global leader in laboratory analysis for the detection of banned drugs.

Last month, the company announced it had appointed Derby-based SureScreen Diagnostics, a leading provider of workplace drug and alcohol testing services, as a UK distributor for its system.

Dr Jerry Walker, CEO of Intelligent Fingerprinting laboratory
Dr Jerry Walker, CEO of Intelligent Fingerprinting laboratory

SureScreen Diagnostics is adding fingerprint drug testing to its existing portfolio of urine and saliva-based products. Its sales efforts will be focused on safety-critical sectors that carry out routine workplace drug testing and post-accident tests.

Dr Walker said: “With over 20 years’ in-depth experience, SureScreen Diagnostics understands not only the factors driving the increased requirement for workplace drug testing but also the barriers that can make it challenging.

“We’re delighted that SureScreen Diagnostics recognises the advantages that our fingertip-based test can bring to employee drug testing, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

David Campbell, Surescreen Diagnostics director, added: “At SureScreen Diagnostics we’re seeing an increased requirement for a wide range of workplace drug testing formats. Fingerprint testing, with its non-invasive nature and hygiene advantages, provides exactly the kind of flexibility and ease-of-use that will make testing simpler for employers, while also proving dignified for those being tested.

“Having worked closely with Intelligent Fingerprinting, we’re confident that fingerprint-based employee drug testing offers a true end-to-end solution for employers, from initial screening through to the collection of further samples for laboratory confirmation, if needed.

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“We see the technology as being complementary to existing drug testing methods, and will market the Intelligent Fingerprinting drug testing solution for a range of workplace drug testing scenarios, such as random drug tests and post-accident investigations.”

In February, Intelligent Fingerprinting raised £1.7million from US and UK investors, meaning it has raised £13.2million since being launched in 2007 as a spin-out from the University of East Anglia.

Innovations & Innovators

This article part of our series of features focused on Innovations & Innovators, published in association with Ensors, Nuffield Health, Cambridge Innovation Park and Hilton City Centre Hotel.

Other articles in the series include:

Innovations and innovators: Ensors’ James Francis and Jayson Lawson on the keys to success

Patient capital delivers results

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