Scientists use edible fluorescent labels as digital “fingerprints” on prescription drugs to ensure their safety

According tomedia New Atlas, scientists at Purdue University say the problem of the death of counterfeit opioids has spread to 46 states across the United States, so they have developed an edible safety label that can be integrated into drugs to ensure their safety and authenticity. While prescription drugs have their own brand, color, shape and packaging, this is not an insurmountable obstacle for counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Researchers at Purdue University say the counterfeits account for at least 10 percent of the global drug market, killing tens of thousands of people worldwide each year.

To add extra impact to these undesirable actors, scientists have developed a new type of “safety label” that can be combined into drugs to act as a digital fingerprint. The label consists of a transparent film containing silk and fluorescent proteins that scientists fuse through genes. These ingredients are easy to digest and, since they are made of protein solely, they are safe to eat when made of pills or tablets.

By shining the LED light on the label, the particles in the label are activated and emit different fluorescent colors, including cyan, green, yellow, and red. These images of different light modes can then be converted into digital bits that are used as security keys, giving pharmacies or patients the ability to easily verify the authenticity of a pill or tablet.

So far, the team has been working to verify the real drug, but says it could further develop the technology to provide information about the dose or expiration date. Researchers are now developing a smartphone app for pharmacies and consumers that allow them to verify security keys and ensure their drugs are safe to eat.

“Our concept is to use a smartphone to illuminate led lights on labels and take pictures of them,” said Jung Woo Leem, a postdoctoral researcher in biomedical engineering at Purdue University. “The app then identifies whether the drug is genuine or fake. “

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications, and the following video outlines the study.