A couple of University of Akron students, Mariam Crow and Kathleen Stitzlein, have invented a roadside device to detect the level of THC in drivers. The device, called “Cannibuster“, tests the saliva using lab-on-chip technology to determine concentration of the chemical in the bloodstream. The Cannibuster has the potential to completely change the way marijuana DUI laws are enforced.
As Ms. Stitzlein stated in a press release:
“Today if a driver is suspected of impaired driving due to marijuana, law enforcement officers must call an Emergency Medical Squad to the scene or take the driver to a local hospital for blood work”
“Lab results can take up to six weeks to come back, which is clearly not ideal.”
The Cannibuster has gotten off to a promising start by winning the LaunchTown Entrepreneurship award, as well as Ohio Third Frontier funding for prototyping.
The following is a press release from University of Akron on the Cannibuster:
Marijuana testing … catch attention at LaunchTown
In Northeast Ohio, universities don’t just educate future researchers — they develop future entrepreneurs. On Thursday, April 23, the ninth annual LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards will celebrate five competitors representing some of the brightest and most innovative ideas being produced at northeast Ohio universities. Of this year’s student team finalists, two are from The University of Akron, two are from Kent State University and one is from Case Western Reserve University.
After a final pitch to judges representing industry and academia, the winning team will be presented with a $10,000 check and a promise of $20,000 worth of mentoring and advisory services from local entrepreneurs.
Dazed and confused
The first of two UA teams is Kathleen Stitzlein, biomedical engineering Ph.D. student, and Mariam Crow, postbaccalaureate student in biomedical engineering, under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Davis, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. With the legalization of marijuana, the problem she identified is how law enforcement officers can keep roads safe from drivers under the influence. While states have set legal limits in drivers for levels of THC (< 5 nanograms), which is the active chemical in marijuana, the technology to accurately measure levels of the chemical roadside does not exist.
“Today if a driver is suspected of impaired driving due to marijuana, law enforcement officers must call an Emergency Medical Squad to the scene or take the driver to a local hospital for blood work,” says Stitzlein. “Lab results can take up to six weeks to come back, which is clearly not ideal.”
Enter The Cannibuster – a novel, microfluidic device that uses noninvasive saliva testing and lab-on-chip technology to detect THC levels in a matter of minutes. Stitzlein believes her point-of-care device can determine concentration of the chemical in the bloodstream, providing law enforcement officials with a quick, accurate roadside method to detect levels of THC.
“Kathy is the perfect example of what’s possible when our students look for engineering solutions to medical problems,” says Davis.
Robosense teamBen Kent, left, and Vatani Morteza, Ph.D. candidates in mechanical engineering, examine a tactile sensor for prosthetics they call Robosense.
The Cannibuster has already received Ohio Third Frontier funding for further prototyping. Additional funding for The Cannibuster would allow the team to create partnerships with law enforcement departments in states where marijuana has been legalized to discern final device requirements from the end user’s perspective.
Mariam Crow left, and Kathleen Stitzlein, graduate students in biomedical engineering, accept the LaunchTown Entrepreneurship top prize of $10,000 Thursday for the continued development of Cannibuster, a marijuana detection sensor that allows law enforcement to check levels of THC — a chemical found in marijuana — using a quick, accurate roadside device which delivers test results in minutes instead of weeks. The LaunchTown prize will allow the team to create partnerships with law enforcement departments in states where marijuana has been legalized to discern final device requirements from the end user’s perspective.
The following is an interview with Kathleen Stitzlein about the “Cannibuster” that aired on WONE.
The issue of driving under the influence of marijuana is still an area that needs further research and better understanding of how levels of THC affect driving. As is well known, marijuana can stay in the system for days and weeks after the effects have worn off. Any regular marijuana user will almost always test positive for THC regardless of whether they were under the influence of it while driving. The Cannibuster is a good start in streamlining the process which hopefully can be developed further to address the biggest issue with marijuana DUI testing.