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A pair of scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara and two high school students have developed a sensor that can detect cocaine in the bloodstream along with other biotoxins. The sensor can be built into portable devices and can perform the entire detection process real-time in just a few minutes. It works by creating an artificial DNA molecule that will react when a blood sample is applied.

This project isn t just focusing on toxins either. There are a lot of potential health care applications. The artificial DNA could be modified to react to blood samples containing specific diseases or even to detect what kind of prescription drugs are being used in emergency situations when the patient isn t able to communicate for themselves. The group has already been in discussion with several companies regarding licensing.

Sensor instantly detects cocaine in blood []