How fingermark imaging can be used for drug detection

An image to illustrate fingermarking
©iStock/zoka74

Fingermark imaging can be used for drug detection for the drugs ketamine and amphetamine, according to researchers at the University of Zhejiang, China.

The researchers have created a new method using biological fluorescent probes to detect amphetamine and ketamine in latent fingermarks. The intended aim of this fingermark imaging method is for drug detection to combat substance abuse.

Drug detection from fingermarks in crime scenes

It is noted in World Scientific that, often, the number of fingerprints collected from a crime scene is limited. This presents a need to not only detect drugs quickly and with a high degree of sensitivity, but also to be able to test for the presence of multiple drugs with one test. Presently used immunoassay methods are limited by the fact that only one drug can be checked in a single fingermark by one test. In practical cases, it is often unknown which drugs may be present, so there is not only one drug to test for.

Drug detection for ketamine and amphetamine

During recent years in China, ketamine and amphetamine are two of the most commonly abused synthetic drugs.

Ketamine and amphetamine cause adverse health effects. For example, ketamine and amphetamine respectively can damage or pose a risk to:

  • The heart;
  • The short-term and long-term memory;
  • Diet;
  • Sleep;
  • The immune system;
  • The kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract;
  • The liver; and
  • Aspects of mental health, for example anxiety and depression.

Can fingermark imaging be broadened to detect other drugs?

This finding could lead to further breakthroughs in forensic science. The paper concludes: “Ketamine and amphetamine were recognized by simply observing the colors of fluorescent images when the fingermark was checked in red and green channels…This work therefore provides a novel nanocarrier-based strategy of drug detection as well as personal identification with high selectivity, low background interference and fast testing, which can be further broadened to other drugs and molecules.”

The paper is titled “Nanocarrier-Based Biological Fluorescent Probes for Simultaneous Detection of Ketamine and Amphetamine in Latent Fingermarks”, and published in World Scientific.

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