Nano-ink Tattoos Could Continuously Monitor Glucose in Diabetics

Most people think that tattoos are typically decorative, and might not think they could have any positive influence on your health.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School, however, have just developed tattoos that change color based on chemical changes in the body (such as glucose, sodium, and ph); which could be helpful for people with chronic diseases.

These tattoos could be especially useful for people with diabetes, since the ink would change from blue to brown when detecting a peak, and so it would be easier for them to know when insulin needs to be supplied.

How do they work?

In these tattoos, traditional ink is replaced by biosensors that change color according to variations in interstitial fluid (the liquid between cells).

With this, the special ink changes color when, for example, the blood sugar level rises.

Experts have so far developed four biosensors, which react to three types of chemical changes in the body: pH, glucose, and sodium.

The pH or acid level sensor changes between purple and pink, the glucose sensor changes between blue and brown, and sodium, along with a second pH sensor becomes fluorescent at higher intensity under ultraviolet light.

In addition to being helpful in controlling diabetes, these tattoos could potentially act as alerts to a person's health; for example, if they are dehydrating.

In that sense, they could improve the quality of life of children or adults with chronic diseases and difficulties to communicate what happens to them and how they feel.

The project is called DermalAbyss and is expected to soon be applied to patients.