Abstract: The project aims to develop a fast testing device—a saliva collector, test kit and reading device—for initial drug screening of saliva samples, which can provide the legal basis for the roadside law enforcement. The current practice in the anti-drug investigation adopted by the police is the urine drug testing, which does not allow for fast, on-site screening. Other bio fluids such as oral fluid or sweat also show great potentials as the alternative specimens in drug detection. Among them, oral fluid is easy to obtain noninvasively and contains many analytes of interest that correspond to the findings in blood. Therefore, oral fluid has grown increasingly popular in detecting drug use in the US and Europe. However, the domestic studies regarding the saliva drug testing in humans remain scarce and the cut-off values adopted by other countries cannot directly apply to Taiwanese residents due to differences in culture, ethnicity, diet and metabolism, etc. To make the drug saliva testing a feasible tool in Taiwan, it is imperative to determine the appropriate cut-off values to be applied in the developed new device.
The determination of cut-off values requires a large amount of local specimens for each illicit drug. Such specimens in the current health care system or rehab centers are insufficient, as drug users in custody have often been forced to stop using. Consequently, the best way to collect bio-fluid samples is through the police system. Our team members in Central Police University, has gained support from the National Police Agency regarding the collection of urine and saliva samples. Upon approval of this proposal, the Central Police University team will proceed with the required paperwork and sample collection.
In this project, we will focus on four major categories of drugs, including heroin (morphine and codeine), amphetamine, MDMA and ketamine. To establish the correlation between the drug concentrations in saliva and urine samples, both samples will undergo confirmatory quantification via GC/MS and LC/MS. Subsequently the immunochemical analysis will be carried out with the suggested cut-off values for the device testing and reagent quantity optimization. In addition to developing a cheaper, faster screening test kit, we will synthesize gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and modify AuNPs’ surface with functional groups to develop a new detection technology for enhancing the sensitivity and improving the detection limit.
To enhance the accuracy and avoid controversy in police checkpoints, we will develop a compact and user-friendly digital test kit reader. In accord with our prototype design, we will also draft the standard operating procedure to facilitate the anti-drug investigation and roadside tests of drivers under the influence of a drug. Ultimately, the developed prototyped saliva collector, test kit and device will be contracted for manufacturing and commercialization.