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Rapid fingerprint test for drugs might detect COVID-19

Rapid fingerprint test for drugs might detect COVID-19

Executives at a biometrics firm in England say their portable fingerprint-reading technology could be used to diagnose COVID-19 in 10 minutes. Their company, Intelligent Fingerprinting Ltd., is seeking partners to see if such a tool can be developed.

Intelligent Fingerpinting’s products collect and read chemicals in finger sweat. Most of the 13-year-old company’s clients use the devices to test for evidence of drug use. Executives target drug-treatment centers, human resources departments, prisons and coroners’ offices.

The collection cartridge is small, white and rectangular, about the dimensions of a stack of mailing labels. Users press 10 fingertips to produce enough sweat on the device’s sample window. It needs just picograms of eccrine sweat (a red blood cell weighs 27 picograms). Eccrine sweat most commonly is found on hands and feet.

The cartridge is slid into a portable, lunchbox-sized reader with a screen that displays the results. Current testing methods require analysis by a hospital or lab, and can take hours or even days to deliver a result.

According to the company, the director of Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation has endorsed Intelligent Fingerprint’s effort to develop its product line for COVID-19 diagnosis.

Besides the potential for being portable and fast, the DSR-Plus testing system would not require blood or other biologically hazardous bodily fluids to work.

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