This Fast, Cheap, Reliable Drug Test Can Fit On A Bracelet

Image: iStock

"Conventional drug detection generally use techniques that require long operation time, sophisticated experimental procedures, and expensive equipment with well-trained professional operators; moreover, they are not usually portable," says Joon Hak Oh, head of The Oh lab for organic electronics laboratory at Pohang University of Science and Technology.

Joon Hak Oh's research team has solved all of these problems, apparently. And the result is portable test - and an app - that together can detect amphetamines in urine within seconds, whilst only costing $50 to make.

Image: Jang et al

The new test uses a wireless sensor along with an app to detect amphetamines in urine samples. And it has a lot of advantages - it is portable, wearable, economical to produce and accurate.

Here's how it works: the sensor for the test is coated with a molecule that in turn traps amphetamine molecules inside it. When this happens, the sensor will send a wireless signal to a specifically-designed app that will tell you the test has detected the drug.

Long term, we're looking at these being used alongside breathalyzsers - that's why the sensor was made so small it could fit on a bracelet. Of course, further testing in clinical settings is needed before that happens.

The researchers say the test has "unprecedented sensitivity" for amphetamines.

The Oh lab, which specialises in sensors, teamed up with molecular recognition specialist Kimoon Kim for the test.

"We believe that the combination of molecular recognition and organic electronics is very powerful and will greatly contribute to the development of accurate, sensitive, and inexpensive sensors beyond the limits of existing methods," adds Kim.

"There are many important, real-world areas where sensors are required, such as environmental monitoring, healthcare, detection of dangerous substances, safety issues, and so on. We are currently conducting further research in this direction."


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    Piss tests don’t even test for drugs, they test for by-products, which means that at some stage during the last 5-10 days you had some sort of narcotic in your system, even though it may have zero effect on you at present.

    Imagine if these things were used in the hospitality industry, or any other industry that requires extremely long hours, under a lot of pressure, in high paced environments. You be 50% of the workforce short over night (I made up that fact, although I did work in hospitality for 8 years in Sydney and Wollongong and I’m being a little co sevative with my estimates)

    I worked for BHP for a year and they were actually allowed to take hair samples if they wanted too. 90 day history on most heads there, except those of us with number zero,

      Many in my industry work extremely long hours and shifts, and yet 50% of the workforce aren't abusing amphetamines. Your long hours or difficult job is no excuse to abuse illicit drugs.

        How do you know they’re not? Don’t forget, not all drug users are junkies, some are Judges, Lawyers, Doctors, Police Officers...

          Because I know what a drug intoxicated person looks like, and everybody's too fucking fatigued to be doing stimulants all the time.

          I work in emergency healthcare, we can spot a user a mile away. We've had problems with people abusing opioids and they've been caught out. Some people might take recreational drugs and be functional members of society, but if they rely on it to do their jobs, then they're not functional, and in my line of work they're dangerous.

        And some people just like taking drugs whilst still being a functional member of society.

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