The Netherlands Forensic Institute, an independent agency of the Ministry of Security and Justice, is working on a project to develop a hand-held device that can be used at crime scenes for the real-time analysis of explosives, toxic chemicals, and drugs.

SALIANT, or the Selective Antibodies Limited Immuno-Assay Novel Technology, project has already yielded a sensitive lateral-flow test that can be used by first responders at the scene of a crime or terrorist incident to determine what explosives, chemicals or drugs are involved.

Lateral flow immunodiagnostics has long offered the promise of fast, high-quality testing for substances of low molecular weight. There have, however, been challenges bringing the full power of such technology to bear in this area.

The problem is size. Large analytes can support the simultaneous binding of both capture and detector antibodies, allowing typical excess-reagent sandwich immunoassays to be formatted in which increasing analyte concentration provides an increase of observable signal over a very low zero background. Small molecules are simply not large enough to support such simultaneous binding.

SALIANT offers a system based on the rapid positive detection of small molecular weight analytes such as explosives, toxic chemicals and drugs.

In SALIANT, the Netherlands Forensic Institute works with a large number of public and private sector organizations throughout the EU.