A tattoo that will change colour to reflect the changes that occur in the blood glucose levels has been created by German scientists. So far, a team of scientists from the Technical University of Munich have successfully tested out the same on the skin of pigs. Led by a chemical engineer, Dr. Ali Yetisen, the team used a colour-changing dye to reflect changes in blood glucose levels, with a view to help people manage diabetes. They also tried on picking up albumin, a marker of kidney disease. They used another dye to measure the pH level in human blood.
The dyes used react to changes in the three biomarkers in the interstitial fluid. This fluid acts as a storehouse of nutrients including glucose. The glucose level in interstitial fluid decreases and increases in response to the fall and rise in blood glucose levels. The researchers made the point that the glucose sensor picks up the chemical changes in blood glucose levels, leading to a change in the dye from yellow to dark green.
The albumin sensor turns green indicating presence of albumin. The pH sensor uses red and blue dye. The sensor turns yellow to blue when the pH level is normal for human blood.
Here’s how it happens-
The dyes, apart from the Ph level, are not reversible as of now but the scientists said that the study represents a first step in developing tattoos to help people with diabetes and kidney disease to manage their conditions in real-time.
The scientists mentioned that body modification by injecting pigments into the dermis layer is an old custom. A functional cosmetic technology was found by combining colorimetric biosensors and tattoo artistry. Dermal tattoo sensors function as diagnostic displays by exhibiting colour changes within the visible spectrum in response to changes in glucose, pH, and albumin concentrations.
*Edited on 9th February, 2021: We have replaced the earlier video in the article due to some factual errors pointed out in the comments.
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Hi, Type One Diabetic here. Just wanted to provide a fact check for the 54 second mark of this video: when a diabetic’s blood sugar is low, they should never under any circumstances take insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar, and thus they should do this when their blood sugar is high. Low blood sugar requires a specific carbohydrate intake in order to bring the blood sugar back up to a correct level, which is why diabetics often drink juice and pair it with a starch when low.
Hey, thank you for pointing this out. We have edited the video in the article
While this is an awesome advancement, the video states that insulin would be given during low blood sugar, which is incorrect. Insulin reduces blood sugar, and an insulin injection during a hypoglycemic incident could kill them. Otherwise, awesome stuff! I’ve been diabetic for nearly 30 years and I would get this ink in a tattoo once available.
Hey, thank you for pointing this out. We have edited the video in the article.
Hi, this sounds like promising technology. By the way, you misspelled his last name. There needs to be an n at the end of it.
Hi, Anjum. As pointed out, we have edited the spellng. Thanks for your input.