Taking a page from home-pregnancy tests, scientists have designed a dipstick that can detect traces of cocaine or other drugs in a person's bodily fluids.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the dipstick from DNA-gold nanoparticle technology, or a process for filtering tiny particles in order to detect specific molecules. The system can be packaged in a small kit so, for example, emergency room staff can quickly screen patients for drugs in their saliva, urine or blood serum.
"Our results show that the...dipstick is compatible with biological samples, making applications in medicinal diagnostics possible," Yi Lu, a chemistry professor at the U. of I., said in a statement.
The research was funded by the U. S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.