Tattoos to Monitor Blood Glucose
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10 may, 2010
Medical tattoos would soon replace needle sticks for monitoring
Scientists from Microsoft and The Draper Laboratory are developing medical tattoos that would stop hackers from messing with pacemakers and would do away with needle sticks to measure glucose levels.
“We can follow the same trends as a finger stick glucometer,” Discovery News quoted Heather Clark, a scientist at the Draper Laboratory near Boston as saying. Her study describes the team’s glucose monitoring tattoo, which isn’t a true tattoo. A typical tattoo involves repeatedly sticking a patient with a solid needle that penetrates deep into the skin to permanently stain the tissue with dark colours. However, Clark’s prototype medical tattoo would use a single stick from a hollow needle to stain the first few layers of skin yellowish orange for about a week. The yellow–orange dye contains tiny nanosensors, little balls about 100 nanometers across. Glucose is drawn into the heart of the sensors where it changes the colour of a tiny pigment molecule.
As the amount of glucose rises, the colour of the tattoo would become lighter. As glucose levels fall, the tattoo would get darker.
While the change in colour would be almost unnoticeable to the human eye, the difference is enormous if viewed from a special handheld camera.