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Jittery chemist developing caffeine ‘dipstick’


April 29, 2008
By Canadian Vending StaffST. LOUIS (AP) – Jack Ladenson is one of thousands of North Americans bothered

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ST. LOUIS (AP) – Jack Ladenson is one of thousands of North Americans bothered by caffeine. The older he gets, he says, the more he switches to decaffeinated coffee. 

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Jack Ladenson is one of thousands of North Americans bothered by caffeine. The older he gets, he says, the more he switches to decaffeinated coffee.

The problem is he never trusts what he’s getting in coffee bars or restaurants. So Ladenson, a chemist, is working on a dipstick that would measure levels of caffeine on the spot.

What he envisages is something that might work similar to a home pregnancy strip.

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“We hope to configure a test that could be used by anybody,” said Ladenson, who is leading a group of scientists at Washington University in the effort.

One of the challenges is that there is no test that can measure caffeine in a hot beverage. But the scientists have found a solution to that problem – immune system proteins called antibodies from camels and llamas.
For some reason the antibodies of these creatures are able to hold up to high heat.

The antibodies bind to caffeine, thus allowing a measurement of caffeine content, Ladenson said.

Ladenson said he couldn’t predict when his hoped-for caffeine dipstick might be commercially available, but he has filed a patent
application.


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