LD Wearable Application for Narcotics Monitoring
We are working on the development of a wearable bracelet for real-time and reliable narcotic detection that offers wireless communication with a user interface (smartphone, computer), with multiple sensors in the array to test for many narcotics (mostly synthetic). This bracelet will feature improvement of sensitivity (down to low ng/mL range), cross-reactivity, and long-term stability.
Levi Diagnostics is a subsidiary of Emitech, Inc. which has extensive experience working with nanocomposite chemical sensors for almost 20 years.
In our research and development, we have demonstrated that our nanocomposites provide ultra-high sensitivity (particle per trillion level) to low concentration compounds of different natures. Our detectors to low-concentrated analytes has been developed, tested, and validated by several government agencies and private corporations.
Such ultra-sensitivity of the developed nanosensors is critical for the detection of low levels of narcotics in human sweat.
In October, 2020, Emitech, Inc. received a Phase I grant from NIH (National Institutes of Health) for the development of the wearable bracelet for narcotics detection based on our proprietary technology.
Because Levi Diagnostics is a subsidiary of Emitech, all IP portfolios and other findings in this project will be transferred to Levi Diagnostics without any restrictions.
Our patented detection method will be able to provide a gradient result of narcotics present in a test subject, moving testing beyond the current binary standard of present/non present to showing the level of narcotic in someone's body, allowing medical professionals to be prepared for the exact dosage of narcotics in the user’s system.
Our major target users will be law enforcement units.
However, the device could be successfully used by drug treatment centers, pain treatment clinics, and human resource facilities, or anywhere express drug tests are required. Family members can also monitor and prevent drug use by others in their family using this device.
Thus, accessibility to an innovative device for remote drug monitoring will significantly contribute to combating the opioid crisis.
The Narcotics Epidemic
Narcotics abuse in the United States has now reached epidemic proportions. Last year, drug overdoses killed 70,980 Americans. The AMA (American Medical Association) is greatly concerned by an increasing number of reports from national, state, and local media detailing increases in opioid and other drug-related mortality, particularly from illicitly manufactured synthetic narcotics such as fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.
One major challenge in developing targeted interventions is the lack of timely control over the intake of a critical opioid dosage, which can interrupt rehabilitation or result in death. Such real-time information tailored to patients should be truly relevant to alert their providers and family members about an opioid misuse event.
Currently Available Solutions for Narcotics Detection
Currently, narcotics can be tested in several ways. Procedures include urine, hair follicle, and blood testing. Research shows that narcotics can also be detected with newer sweat patches and saliva narcotics tests. Some tests are cost-prohibitive and significantly invasive.
A urine test is a screening test. It only tests for the presence of narcotics and not specific levels of drug or drug metabolites within the body. A urine test is also considered significantly invasive because a clinician usually needs to be present for the collection of the urine.
A hair follicle opiate test is considerably more expensive, sometimes as much as $150 for analysis. Blood narcotics tests are the most intrusive form of testing and are usually the most expensive.
About Wearable Sweat Health Monitoring Sensors
Recent advances in wearable sensors have made substantial progress in noninvasive and point-of-care monitoring and analysis of human health. Wearable sweat, chemical, and biosensors have attracted a great deal of attention, especially, as sweat provides an ideal interface to access biomarker-rich information.
Recent studies have shown that wearable sweat sensors were able to detect mostly electrolytes and metabolites (sodium, chlorine, lactate, glucose, etc.) for health monitoring and disease diagnostics. However, drug monitoring utilizing wearable sensors is more challenging and has not yet been extensively explored. This is mostly due to the ultra-low opioid concentration in sweat, with levels in the ng/mL range.