Monday, November 5, 2012
A company developing cutting-edge technology which can detect drug use through people’s fingerprints has been given a share of a £39million healthcare grant.
Intelligent Fingerprinting, a spin-out from the University of East Anglia and a finalist in the Eastern Daily Press Business Awards, has received £425,000 to improve drug screening services in hospital A&E and coroners’ departments.
The money will help the company, which is also in the EDP’s Future 50, develop a test which analyses the minute amounts of sweat in a fingerprint to reveal whether an individual has taken drugs.
Administered through a handheld device and delivering results in 10 minutes, the test could have a range of applications – from working out if hospital patients have taken drugs and screening drivers at the roadside, to testing that employees are fit to work and working out causes of death.
David Willets, the minister for science and universities, announced the investment yesterday as part of a boost by the Biomedical Catalyst, a programme of public funding delivered by the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board to boost growth in the life sciences sector.
A project in partnership with the University of Leicester has been awarded £135,000 to research the technology’s use for fast and non-invasive drug screening of hospital A&E patients, reducing costs and improving care.
Dr Paul Yates, business development manager for Intelligent Fingerprinting, said understanding what drugs a patient had taken – whether medicines or illegal drugs – was crucial in emergency situations, in particular when patients are elderly, confused or unable to speak.
“Our technique for detecting the presence of drugs in a person’s bloodstream by analysing a simple fingerprint could help doctors to make better informed decisions about appropriate treatments,” he said.
A second award, for £290,000, will fund a study in conjunction with coroners to trial non-invasive drug testing of the deceased.
Dr Yates said: “It is sometimes necessary to carry out a drug screen to establish how someone has died. This can be a time-consuming and costly process.
“By working with coroners, we will test the potential of using Intelligent FingerprintingTM as a tool to help determine a possible cause of death more quickly and cost effectively.”
Intelligent Fingerprinting was one of 32 projects to receive a share of £39 million in funding from the government-backed Biomedical Catalyst. The awards were made to aid the development of innovative solutions to healthcare challenges.