Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blood sugar sensing tattoos for diabetics

The thought of having to draw blood (even if it's just a tiny pin prick) to check for blood sugar levels several times a day is rather unpleasant... Perhaps here is some good news for diabetics. Researchers at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA have developed a tiny color-changing sensor tattoo that can detect blood sugar levels. The tattoo ink consists of nanospheres containing a fluorescent dye and a molecule that can attract and bind glucose to produce a color change. The nanospheres are injected into the outermost layer of skin. [Apparently, when blood glucose levels increase, they also increase everywhere else in the body, including the outermost layer of skin.] The nanospheres turn purple when glucose is present -- otherwise, they're yellow. Of course, there will be a range of colors depending on how much glucose is present. With a healthy blood sugar level, the tattoo is an orangish color.

The tattoo has been successfully tested in healthy mice, and the next step will be to test it in diabetic mice. The tattoo may be ready for testing in people within the next 5 years.

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