British scientists have developed a fingerprint test that detects cocaine use, according to Fox News.
The researchers say the test has many benefits over traditional drug testing, including a quick turnaround time.
Current fingerprint tests only detect if a person had handled cocaine. The new test determines whether a person has ingested the drug, the article notes.
The researchers, from the University of Surrey, used an analytical chemical technique called mass spectrometry on the fingerprints of people in drug treatment. They compared the fingerprints to saliva samples, to determine accuracy.
"Fingerprints are so quick compared with urine or blood or even saliva. You can put a fingerprint down in a couple of seconds," said lead author Dr. Melanie Bailey. "And our method of analysis is so quick – it literally takes two minutes to analyze a fingerprint sample."
The test detects two chemicals the body excretes when it metabolizes cocaine. Bailey noted traditional drug tests that use blood and urine samples require trained staff, as well as storage and disposal of biological hazards. These tests often require off-site analysis, she noted.
"The beauty of this method is that, not only is it non-invasive and more hygienic than testing blood or saliva, it can't be faked," Bailey said in a news release. "By the very nature of the test, the identity of the subject is captured within the fingerprint ridge detail itself."
Details of the new fingerprint test are published in the journal Analyst.