Don’t call Saul, call Dexter

The forensic luminol blood test familiar to CSI and Dexter fans alike can be used to illuminate blood stains. It uses peroxide which reacts with the iron in haemoglobin. However, 20+ years ago scientists realised that the same test could be used to detect peroxides too. Indeed, researchers worked out that they could use the luminol test to prove that a pharmaeutical product claiming to contain the antimalarial drug artemesinin (a natural peroxide) actually contained this drug and so help avoid pharma fraud.
Now, a team in China has turned that idea on its head and are using the antimalarial drug itself to give the luminol test a 100,000 times sensitive boost that also makes it more specific to identifying blood stains and distinguishing them from other dark stains one might find at a crime scene investigation. Better call Dexter…
My latest news story on this work appears in the magazine Chemistry World.