Technology May Turn the Tide in Battle to End Illicit Drug Trafficking

InteliSpark client, SensoDx LLC., wins a contract from the Department of Defense, US Army, for phase II of their project “A Next Generation, High-Precision, Field Drug Detection System.”

The increasing death toll in the United States related to synthetic opioids reached 28,000 in 2017 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More deaths resulted from synthetic opioids than any other type of opioid.

Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are incredibly powerful drugs. Fentanyl is 50 – 100 times more potent than morphine, while its-related compound, carfentanil, is around 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Though fentanyl is a legal drug distributed through pharmacies, the drug is also illegally manufactured in laboratories in China and Mexico, before being smuggled into the United States and distributed through the illicit drug market.

The easy access to these drugs, low lethal doses, and potential for weaponized use pose an imminent national security threat. SensoDx, LLC has received several grants and contracts in the past from the U.S. Department of Defense, via the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs, to develop novel technology in detecting illicit drugs in the field.

In this newly awarded contract, researchers will adapt SensoDx’s high-performance drug identification technology based on a programmable bio-nano-chip, with embedded artificial intelligence, to allow U.S. Armed Forces to detect and quantify fentanyl and carfentanil in the field.

Current drug detection technologies are costly, bulky, heavy, not shock-resistance, nor hard-wearing, require a high-level of training and only detect a single drug. SensoDx’s lightweight, rugged, easy-to-use, low-cost drug detection system will allow U.S. Armed Forces the ability to accurately and quickly detect synthetic opioids as well as an array of other illicit drugs in the field.

This drug detection technology has the potential to be used by domestic law enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and intelligence agencies in cracking down on illicit drug trafficking.