Nav: Home

Hair forensics could yield false positives for cocaine use

March 02, 2016

Hair analysis has become standard practice for determining whether someone has abused illicit drugs. But some experts have questioned whether current methods to wash away external contaminants from samples might affect test results. Now one team confirms that for cocaine detection, a pretreatment step can cause the drug on the outside of a hair shaft to wash into it and potentially lead to falsely identifying someone as a drug user. Their study appears in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry.

Testing a person's locks for evidence of drug abuse has several advantages over urine and blood analyses. Sampling is simple and non-invasive. And a person's hair provides a record of use over a long period, whereas body fluids can only provide a short-term picture. However, it can be difficult to distinguish drugs incorporated into hair because someone has taken them from drugs that externally contaminate a non-user's hair when he or she was in the same room as the substances. To address this uncertainty, testers wash hair samples to get rid of any potential external contaminants. Eva Cuypers and colleagues wanted to find out if this step could affect the results.

The researchers followed standard procedures to wash off cocaine from non-users' hair. They then examined cross-sections of these samples and found that the drug had migrated into the hair shafts. The results suggest that current methods to decontaminate hair can have the opposite effect. The researchers conclude that this new insight could have implications for future hair analyses.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.Follow us: TwitterFacebook

American Chemical Society

Related Cocaine Articles:

Cocaine addiction leads to build-up of iron in brain
Cocaine addiction may affect how the body processes iron, leading to a build-up of the mineral in the brain, according to new research from the University of Cambridge.
Potential new treatment for cocaine addiction
A team of researchers led by Cardiff University has discovered a promising new drug treatment for cocaine addiction.
Study using animal model provides clues to why cocaine is so addictive
Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are one step closer to understanding what causes cocaine to be so addictive.
Magnetic stimulation of the brain may help patients with cocaine addiction
Baltimore, MD Targeted magnetic pulses to the brain were shown to reduce craving and substance use in cocaine-addicted patients.
New insights on how cocaine changes the brain
The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published Nov.
UK awarded $6 million to further develop treatment for cocaine abuse
University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy Professor Chang-Guo Zhan, along with fellow UK Professors Fang Zheng and Sharon Walsh, and Professor Mei-Chuan Ko from Wake Forest University, recently received $6 million in funding over five years to further develop a potential treatment for cocaine abuse.
Cocaine addiction, craving and relapse
One of the major challenges of cocaine addiction is the high rate of relapse after periods of withdrawal and abstinence.
Which is most valuable: Gold, cocaine or rhino horn?
Elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, gorillas and the majority of other very large animal species are threatened with extinction, an international team of scientists reported this month in the open-access online journal Science Advances.
Cocaine changes the brain and makes relapse more common in addicts
Cocaine use causes 'profound changes' in the brain that lead to an increased risk of relapse due to stress -- according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
WSU researchers see way cocaine hijacks memory
Washington State University researchers have found a mechanism in the brain that facilitates the pathologically powerful role of memory in drug addiction.

Related Cocaine Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".