Revolutionary fingertip drug test now available to support medical examiners


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Revolutionary fingertip drug test now available to support medical examiners

  • Non-invasive fingertip drug test helps provide medical examiners with early intelligence on possible drug use
  • UK trials in three areas confirm accuracy and applicability of fingertip drug tests for medical examiners 

UK-based Intelligent Fingerprinting has announced the availability of its new fingertip-based drug screening system to support medical examiners. The company’s revolutionary technology detects drug use by analyzing the sweat on the tip of a finger that forms a fingerprint, and its non-invasive approach provides a rapid and convenient way for medical examiners to screen the deceased for recent drug use.

Toxicology tests are an important tool within post mortem examinations and are often used by medical examiners to investigate drug use that might have contributed to the cause of death. Conventional toxicology tests require the collection of invasive body fluid samples, usually taken as part of the post mortem examination. These are then typically sent away for analysis by external testing laboratories.

With Intelligent Fingerprinting’s new Drug Screening System, however, tests can be carried out within the mortuary from non-invasive fingertip sweat samples that are collected immediately as required outside a full post mortem examination. Sample collection takes just seconds and the system screens for multiple drugs of abuse in under 10 minutes. This provides very early intelligence on drug use that can be used by medical examiners to help prioritize when a full post mortem is needed, and – potentially – enables earlier release of the deceased back to their families.

Based on work initially funded by a Biomedical Catalyst grant from Innovate UK (the UK’s innovation agency), the two-part Drug Screening System consists of single-use, tamper-evident Intelligent Fingerprinting Cartridges (for sample collection) and the portable Intelligent Fingerprinting Reader 1000 analysis unit. The Cartridge uses lateral flow assay technology and fluorescence-labelled antibodies to selectively detect specific drugs or their metabolites in eccrine sweat collected from a fingerprint.

The portable Reader 1000 is a highly sensitive, robust and effective fluorescence measurement instrument which is used to read the Cartridge, providing a positive or negative result for four groups of drugs – amphetamines, cocaine, opiates and cannabis.

Three UK Coroners’ services trial fingertip-based drug screening
Trials have been conducted by Coroners’ services in three areas of the UK – Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon; South Yorkshire (West) and Staffordshire (South) – to evaluate how the system could provide early intelligence on cause of death. Over two hundred fingertip sweat samples were tested for the presence of four drug groups, with the results being compared for accuracy to samples taken with traditional methods and sent for laboratory analysis.

“Our UK Coroner trial results showed that the Intelligent Fingerprinting Drug Screening System can detect the use of drugs prior to death, and revealed a 94% to 99% correlation to laboratory results. This demonstrates the effectiveness of fingertip-based testing in providing medical examiners with valuable drug use intelligence as to the possible cause of death,” said Dr. Jerry Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Intelligent Fingerprinting. “In comparison to traditional blood, urine or saliva body fluid tests, our non-invasive fingertip sweat samples can be collected and analyzed immediately on arrival at the mortuary. This contrasts with body fluid sample tests that require specialist and hygienic collection and disposal, and are typically only collected and analyzed if a full post mortem examination is carried out.

“This ability to gain very early drug use intelligence outside the post mortem examination provides a new opportunity for medical examiners to expedite and direct further investigations and toxicology analysis,” he added. “This early information can be used to inform any further post mortem examinations and toxicology tests, helping medical examiners to prioritize valuable resources where they are most needed”.

To learn more about how non-invasive drug screening works, and how it could become a valuable drug screening technology for medical examiners and other applications, view the Intelligent Fingerprinting introductory video.

For forensic use only.


For media information contact Cheryl Billson at Comma
Email:  Tel: +44 (0)7791 720460

Notes to Editors:

About Intelligent Fingerprinting
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s unique fingertip drug test is set to revolutionize the way drug screening is carried out across a range of sectors. The distinctive Intelligent Fingerprinting technology, which works by analyzing the sweat from a fingerprint sample, enables non-invasive, cost-effective screening for multiple drug groups in less than 10 minutes (currently amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and opiates).

Intelligent Fingerprinting has attracted worldwide interest in its technology from a wide range of drug-screening markets including the criminal justice arena, drug rehabilitation centers, prisons and occupational health services. The technique has potential for many other uses including healthcare diagnostics and homeland security applications.

The company’s groundbreaking technology detects drug use by analyzing chemicals, known as metabolites, contained in the minute traces of sweat found in a fingerprint. (Metabolites are chemicals produced by the body as a result of normal metabolic processes.) The Intelligent Fingerprinting Drug Screening System looks for the presence of specific drugs or drug metabolites in the test subject’s fingerprint sweat sample and, if detected, identifies which drugs have been consumed.

Since 2012 Intelligent Fingerprinting has raised £11.23m in funding from a consortium of private UK and US-based investors, as well as government funding for pilot studies within the UK’s National Health Service and UK Coroners’ services.

Founded in 2007, Intelligent Fingerprinting is a spin-out company from the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, England.  The company is based in Cambridge, England and currently employs 30 people.

Follow us on Twitter @iFingerprinting

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