(IOWA CITY, Iowa) — Many parents have used home drug tests to determine if their children are taking illicit substances. However, not everything has to be against the law to be dangerous when used in large amounts. Too much caffeine, for instance, can result in insomnia and hallucinations, and in extreme cases has been linked to cancer and even death.
As a result, Mani Subramanian and his colleagues from the University of Iowa are developing a way for people to learn if there are even small traces of caffeine in their food or drinks.
By using an enzyme called caffeine dehydrogenase, Subramanian was able to find caffeine within one minute in a variety of drinks — with the exception, curiously, of tea.
The plan is to make the enzyme available commercially in the form of a dip stick. It certainly will come in handy, since Subramanian and his team say that caffeine is included in over 570 beverages and 150 foods.
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