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Intelligent Fingerprinting


Intelligent Fingerprinting

UEA's chemistry research ranked 10th in the UK UEA's chemistry research ranked 10th in the UK

98% of UEA's Chemistry research was judged world leading or internationally excellent, placing us 10th overall in the UK according to REF2014 rankings.

The results also demonstrate our global reach: the impact of Chemistry research at UEA is rated as joint 13th in the UK  whilst our research outputs (scientific papers) were ranked 4th in the UK.

Case study: Revolutionising drug screening

A portable device which analyses fingerprint sweat is revolutionising drug screening.

Developed by UEA’s Prof David Russell, with research funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research CouncilIntelligent Fingerprinting enables non-invasive and cost effective drug testing in less than 10 minutes.

Applications include drug rehabilitation services, offender management and criminal justice.

Existing drug screening methods require the collection of fluids like urine, saliva or blood and rely on specialist staff and specially prepared collection areas.

Thanks to Intelligent Fingerprinting’s technology, fast and accurate tests can be performed in any location, with benefits for police and prisons, healthcare workers, drug rehabilitation clinics, and workplaces with drug screening policies.

Prof David Russell, from UEA’s School of Chemistry, said: “The device works by analysing the tiny traces of sweat left behind by a fingerprint. When the chemicals contained in drugs are processed by the body, secondary chemicals called metabolites are produced as a result.

“Our device can detect tiny amounts of these metabolites in a person’s sweat and determine whether particular drugs have been taken.”

The device will initially test for amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine and opiates but has the potential to detect even more drug groups. The amount of each drug that constitutes a pass or fail can also be calibrated, providing further flexibility for potential users.

An additional benefit is the potential for the device to combine verification of identity with drug screening.

Prof Russell said: “Since the test results are linked to a unique fingerprint, the risk of attributing a positive result to the wrong person is minimised and identity checks can be carried out by security personnel at the same time as drug screening.”

The company, a spin-out from the University of East Anglia, is generating worldwide interest and plans a full release of its portable drug screening device in 2015. In 2014, Intelligent Fingerprinting secured almost £3 million in new funding from private UK and US-based investors. 

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Key academics Key academics

Professor David Russell
Professor of Chemistry, Head of School, School of Chemistry

Research interests

Our research group is interested in the synthesis, functionalisation and use of nanoparticles for analytical and biomedical applications. The research projects in which the group is involved are described below:
  • Biofunctionalised nanoparticles for the acquisition of forensic evidence
  • Intracellular measurements
  • Glyconanoparticle based colorimetric bioassays and glycoarrays
  • Photosensitiser-nanoparticle conjugates for photodynamic therapy of cancer

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