The Grapevine

These Tattoos Promise To Help Patients Monitor Diabetes, Kidney Disease Real Time

Tattoos may soon serve a new purpose. What was widely used to express ideas (and be cool) would then help patients and doctors monitor diseases. 

Scientists from Germany created “biosensor tattoos” that respond to changing levels of sugar, albumin or pH, Science Alert reported Monday. The new intradermal ink changes color based on changes in the body. 

Developers hope the tattoo would soon be used to monitor chronic diseases, like diabetes and kidney disease, in real time. Tested on pig skin, the tattoos appeared accurately responding to concentrations of the key biomarkers indicating diseases. 

“Here, a functional cosmetic technology was developed by combining tattoo artistry and colorimetric biosensors,” the researchers said in their report published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition. “Dermal tattoo sensors functioned as diagnostic displays by exhibiting color changes within the visible spectrum in response to variations in pH, glucose and albumin concentrations.”

The tattoo uses a special dye that reacts when exposed to the biomarkers in the interstitial fluid. Such fluid leaks out of the capillaries.

The dye turns green when detecting albumin, turns yellow or dark green because of glucose and becomes yellow or blue when exposed to pH sensor. Researchers aim to enhance the tattoo and make the dye reversible. 

"The applications of the sensors can be extended to the detection of electrolytes, proteins, pathogenic microorganisms, gases and dehydration status," the researchers said. "The developed dermal sensors may have an application in medical diagnostics to monitor a broad range of metabolite biomarkers."

The team plans to test the tattoo on living animals. The next study will focus on the potential side effects of the special dye. 

Such transformative technology also shows promise to enable doctors to create a more personalized medicine. 

Importance Of Real-Time Monitoring

Blood sugar testing is important for people with diabetes. Actively monitoring blood sugar can help manage treatment and prevent complications.

To date, patients use a portable electronic glucose meter to measure sugar level. The device requires a small drop of blood to measure glucose. 

The body’s pH in the blood is another thing that needs to be closely monitored. Changes in its levels may indicate different health concerns that may require immediate medical attention. 

tattoo Scientists created new “biosensor tattoos” that respond to signs of chronic diseases, like diabetes and kidney disease. Pixabay