Fingerprints May Divulge Drug Use, Disease | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: May 23, 2007

Fingerprints May Divulge Drug Use, Disease

Antibody-based method shown to discriminate between smokers and nonsmokers
Department: Science & Technology

A new antibody-based technique for visualizing and analyzing fingerprints could one day be used to diagnose diseases or to screen people for illicit drug use or for doping in athletics.

Sweat that diffuses from pores on the fingers carries metabolites of drugs, food, and other substances. These metabolites create a residue that can be detected when a person leaves a fingerprint on a surface such as a glass slide.

David A. Russell of the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, U.K., and colleagues demonstrated the technique by attaching gold nanoparticles to antibodies for cotinine, a nicotine metabolite (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2007, 46, 4100). When exposed to the fingerprints of smokers, these nanoparticle/antibody conjugates bind to cotinine residues. The team then exposed the fingerprints to a second antibody???labeled with a fluorescent dye???that binds to the cotinine antibodies. The process causes fingerprints of smokers, but not nonsmokers, to fluoresce. The technique could be adapted to detect other compounds, including metabolites of illicit drugs, by using different antibodies.

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