Sweat could be the new crime fighting tool

February 22nd, 2009 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 22 (IANS) Scientists believe sweat would potentially replace fingerprints as a tool to fight crimes in the future. Sweat could be used to track terrorists and criminals when fingerprints are partially damaged or do not exist.
Human sweat is a bio-chemical composite of the food we eat or the drugs we take, even our mental state and also our gender.

Collected from a T-shirt, sock, or even a hand sliding across a table, sweat can hold a lot of secrets.

In theory, sweat ID could be used in conjunction with a “bionic nose” to sniff people at airports as they pass through security checks.

Sweat is a complex mixture of proteins and byproducts of our metabolism emitted from our pores. It also contains volatile compounds, only some of which our noses pick up.

Michael Gozin of Tel Aviv University (TAU) School of Chemistry is investigating those compounds with heavy molecular weights, like proteins and peptides, which stick around long after a person and his smell have vanished.

He and his team are looking at the biochemical components of human sweat as a new kind of ID, suspecting that each person has his or her very own chemical fingerprint.

“Dogs and other animals can differentiate between people easily, defining each person by his or her smell. Some animals can track us wherever we go,” said Gozin, whose lab is preparing to work on this project with the US Air Force.

Besides crime fighting, defence and security applications, the chemical ID could be used to track and trace missing children, or by doctors to help understand human maladies, said a TAU release.

Using high-end mass spectrophotometer provided by the US department of defence and the Israeli ministry of defence, Gozin expects that results from sweat tests can be produced in real-time, much more quickly than “today’s or even tomorrow’s DNA tests”.

Gozin, who hopes to present his unique findings later this year, said that the first indication of success will be the ability of his system to distinguish between male and female sweat.

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