Rapid detection of cocaine, benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine in fingerprints using surface mass spectrometry
Latent fingerprints provide a potential route to the secure, high throughput and non-invasive detection of drugs of abuse. In this study we show for the first time that the excreted metabolites of drugs of abuse can be detected in fingerprints using ambient mass spectrometry. Fingerprints and oral fluid were taken from patients attending a drug and alcohol treatment service. Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to test the oral fluid of patients for the presence of cocaine and benzoylecgonine. The corresponding fingerprints were analysed using Desorption Electrospray Ionization (DESI) which operates under ambient conditions and Ion Mobility Tandem Mass Spectrometry Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI-IMS-MS/MS) and Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS). The detection of cocaine, benzoylecgonine (BZE) and methylecgonine (EME) in latent fingerprints using both DESI and MALDI showed good correlation with oral fluid testing. The sensitivity of SIMS was found to be insufficient for this application. These results provide exciting opportunities for the use of fingerprints as a new sampling medium for secure, non-invasive drug detection. The mass spectrometry techniques used here offer a high level of selectivity and consume only a small area of a single fingerprint, allowing repeat and high throughput analyses of a single sample.