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New “Smart tattoos” May Replace Test Strips for Tracking Your Blood Sugar

Be honest. How often do you check your blood sugar? Several times a day? Every few days? Or never at all? 

Well, no matter how quick and painless it can be, getting out the test strips is still too inconvenient for many diabetics to bother.

According to an American Diabetes Association survey, 1 in 5 type 1 diabetics NEVER check their glucose. While nearly half of type 2 disbetics never monitor theirs either.

Reasons not to check include the expense of test strips, too busy and for some people it’s too painful.

Well, soon all diabetics may be able to throw their test strips away for good thanks to a new blood sugar monitoring tattoo. 

Biosensitive ink changes color with blood sugar

Harvard and MIT have developed smart tattoos that can eliminate all the hassle of blood test strips. 

 Two teams at Harvard Medical School and MIT’s Media Lab combined biosensitive inks with traditional tattoo artistry to create a new way of monitoring blood glucose. They’ve called it the “Demal Abyss”. 

“We were thinking: New technologies, what is the next generation after wearables? And so we came up with the idea that we could incorporate biosensors in the skin.” – Ali Yetisen, Tosteson postdoctoral fellow at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The problem with current wearables monitoring devices for blood sugar is their short battery life and the need for wireless connectivity. However, there’s no ned for a battery or having to connect to your laptop to check the readings. All you do is check your tattoo’s colour.

How it works

The tattoo is made from a special ink that reacts to the chemicals in your interstituial fluid. If it goes green, you’re dehydrated. If it goes brown, your glucose is going up.

What’s more, just like type 2 diabetes, you dont have to live with the tattoo for the rest of your life. Scientits believe they can make the tattoo temporary, or even invisible unless shone under a light. They’ve also developed a smartphone app for analyzing the symbols to give you a health reading.

This all sounds very promising. Just imagine never having to bother with test strips again!

But it’s still a work in progress. They still need to find a way of stabilizing the inks so the designs dont fade or diffuse. 

However, once perfected, it’s hoped that diabetics will be queueing to get stylish new tattoos so they can keep track of their blood sugar quickly, painlessly and conveniently.

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