David Russell - Intelligent Fingerprinting
A future in which police could carry out roadside
tests for drugs through a simple fingerprint test
is now nearly in sight, thanks to science at the
University of East Anglia.
The funding has
put us in a strong
position to develop
A team led by scientist Prof David Russell
has launched a spin-out company, Intelligent
Fingerprinting, hoping to turn their research into a
marketable product which could revolutionise the
way police detect illegal drugs.
The firm’s technique uses the sweat left in
fingerprints to identify a number of illegal drugs,
prescription drugs and drug metabolites.
It is developing hand-held drug drive testing
devices which would give police the opportunity to
test people on the spot at the roadside. And that is
just one of the potential commercial applications of
the technology Prof Russell, professor of chemistry
at the UEA, has developed with first products due to
be launched later this year.
“The ability to detect the crime while
simultaneously determining the perpetrator has
enormous potential within the forensic science
sector – aiding police and forensic scene of crimes
officers with their investigations,” said Prof Russell.
“However, Intelligent Fingerprinting is also working
on the development of the technology for screening
of athletes and for the detection of biomarkers for
The science had not been developed for a
particular purpose, but its emergence is timely as it
comes at a time when the government is looking at
tightening laws on drug-driving.
However, through work with I Teams, a
Cambridge-based programme aimed at helping
businesses find uses and commercial outlets for
research, Intelligent Fingerprinting has founded
other commercial opportunities including pilot
testing to testing US military personnel.
The firm has had ICENI seedcorn funding to
develop its products and recently received a further
£100,000 from the fund.
“The funding has put us in a great position to
develop an increasing range of products that
have the potential to address a number of law
enforcement and medical challenges,” said Prof
“The new techniques are generating significant
interest in the sectors we are targeting and we are in
a great position to target potential investors who can
help the company grow.”