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Sensors in Alternative Samples: A Powerful Tool in Forensic Toxicology
1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1, 3 , 1, 2, 4, 5 , 1, 2, 6 , 7 , * 1, 2, 6
1  Centro de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde, Universidade da Beira Interior (CICS-UBI), 6200-506 Covilhã
2  Laboratório de Fármaco-Toxicologia, UBIMedical, Universidade da Beira Interior, EM506, 6200-000 Covilhã
3  Departamento de Química, Universidade da Beira Interior, 6200-001 Covilhã
4  Associate Laboratory i4HB-Institute for Health and Bioeconomy, NOVA School of Science and Technology, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, 2819-516 Caparica
5  UCIBIO-Applied Molecular Biosciences Unit, Chemistry Department, NOVA School of Science and Technology, 2829-516 Caparica
6  Centro Académico Clínico das Beiras (CACB)—Grupo de Problemas Relacionados com Toxicofilias, 6200-000 Covilhã
7  Serviço de Química e Toxicologia Forenses, Instituto de Medicina Legal e Ciências Forenses—Delegação do Sul, 1169-201 Lisboa,
Academic Editor: Blaž Likozar


The identification of drugs of abuse in biological samples is an essential component of forensic toxicology, which benefits both criminal investigations and public health initiatives. However, due to the limited advancement of immunoassays, the field faces difficulties, especially in the detection of drugs of abuse. The growing importance of sensor technologies as practical alternatives in forensic toxicology is addressed in this review. These technologies provide accurate, effective, and real-time detection capabilities for a range of sample types.

One notable advantage of sensor technologies lies in their adaptability to alternative samples such as hair, sweat, oral fluid, and others. These alternative specimens present unique advantages in forensic toxicology, offering extended detection windows and overcoming limitations associated with traditional matrices like blood and urine. For instance, hair samples provide a retrospective timeline of drug exposure, while oral fluid and sweat offer non-invasive collection methods that are suitable for on-site testing in various settings.

The development of sensor technologies that are specifically suited for forensic toxicology applications is still lacking, despite their potential. By investigating the possibilities of portable sensor technologies for identifying drug abuse in different samples, the present work seeks to address this gap. We anticipate improved drug abuse detection speed, accuracy, and accessibility through the integration of these technologies into forensic toxicology practices, revolutionising the effectiveness of criminal investigations and public health initiatives.

Closing this technological gap might result in a new era of thorough and effective analysis in the field of forensic toxicology. As sensor technologies develop further and adapt to a wider range of sample matrices, they present a viable path forward for forensic toxicology, promising rapid, precise, and reliable outcomes that are essential for pursuits related to justice and public health.

Keywords: Sensors; Alternatives samples; detection; drug of abuse