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UEA spin out gets £300,000 funding

PUBLISHED: 10:23 02 February 2011

University of East Anglia scientists who found a way to identify illegal drug use and a person's identity simultaneously through a simple fingerprint test have secured £300,000 of investment to help develop their business.

Spin-out company Intelligent Fingerprinting has developed “reagent kits”, which for the first time could give police a tool with which to carry out roadside drugs testing.

The kits can detect nicotine, cannabis, methadone and cocaine.

Now the firm is also looking at kits which could test for traces of explosives, which could be crucial in anti-terrorism work.

The cash is being given to Intelligent Fingerprinting by Synergis Technologies, a privately-owned early-stage investment firm based in London, and the Iceni Seedcorn fund.

Prof David Russell, founder of Intelligent Fingerprinting said: “By simultaneous detection of personal identity and illicit substances, we are able to offer law enforcement agencies the ability to create personal profiles which are, otherwise unavailable.

“The ability to perform rapid and non-invasive drug tests on-site not only has applications in law enforcement and border control but also institutional testing such as in prisons and where safety-related functions need to be performed.”

Terry Swainbank, investment director at Synergis Technologies, part of the Porton Capital Group said: “This is a very exciting investment opportunity for us and we are looking forward to working with Intelligent Fingerprinting as they develop this next generation in diagnostics technology into a significant commercial success.

“With the increased movement of population around the world, there is a strong need for a system that can accurately and quickly determine illicit substance abuse in an individual.”

Intelligent Fingerprinting was founded in 2008 and received initial seed funding from Iceni.

The technology it developed detects metabolites and not the drugs themselves, which means it is impossible for an individual to avoid detection – if hands are washed, a time delay in acquiring the fingerprint will still show the metabolite on the fingerprint when he or she begins to sweat again.

The firm says current testing methods for illicit substances include mislabelling of blood and urine samples as they are sent away to forensics laboratories for testing and the time taken to get a result.

By taking the fingerprints of a suspected user and testing these instead of a blood or urine sample as evidence of drug abuse means there is no chance for fraudulent swapping of samples or mislabelling.

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