October 13, 2015 -
Intelligent Fingerprinting recently presented evaluation data from its pilot project testing the potential use of its new mobile drug screening device by coroners and mortuary staff to collect early intelligence about cause of death.
The firm, which presented the preliminary results at the Coroner’s Society of England and Wales Annual Conference, is now discussing the possibility of extending the Innovate UK-funded pilot to a wider customer trial.
Conducted by Intelligent Fingerprinting and the Sheffield Legal-Medico Centre, the trial is validating a new non-invasive drug screening technique that could help coroners prioritize when costly post-mortems are necessary and enable earlier release of the deceased for burial.
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s drug screening device collects and analyzes sweat from an individual’s fingerprint to provide data on recent drug use, achieving results in under ten minutes.
Coroners could potentially use the technology to gain early intelligence on drug use of the deceased.
“It has been fascinating to watch this technology being developed stage by stage,” said Christopher Dorries, HM Coroner South Yorkshire West Area. “Although we are at an early stage of comparing results with the nearly finished product, the testing so far has suggested that this will be a really useful tool for bed-side toxicology indication, albeit not intended to be evidential. It should alert us to the cases that need to be subject to full toxicology, and in some cases, may obviate the need for any toxicology tests at all.”
With the relatives’ consent, Intelligent Fingerprinting researchers collected and tested 180 fingerprint sweat samples from the Sheffield mortuary in its laboratory for the presence of opiates.
The fingertip sweat samples represented a wide range of categories of death and preservation of bodies.
Using Intelligent Fingerprinting’s technology, the researchers were able to achieve a correlation of over 90% in the samples they analyzed compared with post-mortem toxicology results.
Through the pilot, the samples are now being tested in real time in the mortuary using the firm’s portable drug screening device.
The first results show a similar correlation to conventional post-mortem toxicology results for opiates and cocaine.
“This new non-invasive technology has the potential to provide early intelligence about drug use to help determine the likely cause of death and allow coroners to prioritize where a full post-mortem and laboratory toxicology tests are required, thereby saving costs,” said Dr Paul Yates from Intelligent Fingerprinting.
“The device could also quickly reveal the presence of drugs in cases which may otherwise have been overlooked as unsuspicious. We are very pleased by the enthusiasm shown by other coroners offering to help us build our data set by taking part in a wider trial of our device.”